White Sox manager Tony La Russa said on Wednesday he will try to make Yermin Mercedes change his mind about quitting baseball.
La Russa told reporters that Mercedes may have just been “frustrated” when he wrote on Instagram that he was stepping out of the game “indefinitely”. La Russa boasted that Mercedes has said several times that the two men are close.
“He knows I’m a supporter of his. So I’ll be reaching out to him to see what’s going on,” La Russa said, per MLB.com White Sox reporter Scott Merkin. La Russa also said he will try to convince Mercedes that he still has a future as a major league player.
Mercedes made its announcement less than three months after he became an MLB sensation as a rookie. He wrote “it’s over” in English in the IG post, followed by an emotional message in Spanish. He thanked his family and his agent for their support and then apologized to the media and teams for “immaturity” and “failing people”.
Wednesday afternoon he posted to his Instagram story a thinking emoji and a Spanish phrase referring to retirement.
Mercedes has been playing at Triple-A Charlotte since he was chosen for the minors on July 2. He was sent down amid a protracted slump that many fans and media blamed La Russa for. The 28-year-old DH/catcher cut .128/.209/.154 in his last 23 games before relegation.
The blame on La Russa comes from the manager who publicly criticized Mercedes on May 18 for swinging on a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning of an outburst by the Twins the previous night. Mercedes homered on the field, a 47 mph floater from position player Willians Astudillo.
Mercedes was not apologetic after the game. That did not go down well with La Russa, who made his thoughts public the following afternoon.
“I heard him say something like, ‘I’m playing my game.’ No he does not’ La Russa said, for Merkin. “He plays the game of Major League Baseball, respects the game, respects the opponents. And he has to respect the boards. If he gets the take sign, he takes.”
“I just think Yermin was locked up,” La Russa also said. “He and Astudillo, they know each other from different competitions. He was locked up and… [thinking], ‘I have to get him, I have to get him.'”
La Russa added that the Twins, who were furious with Mercedes, knew the manager was “upset”.
That night, Minnesota reliever Tyler Duffeyffe hit Mercedes in the leg with a fastball. Referees sent Duffey out after they conferred on the field. La Russa appeared to side with the Twins in his post-game comments to reporters.
“I have no problem with how the Twins handled that,” he said.