Tony La Russa and his entire coaching staff will be back for 2022.
But the Chicago White Sox did make one change of note in the early stages of their offseason work.
General manager Rick Hahn announced Friday that Allen Thomas, the team’s head of strength and conditioning, will not have his contract renewed as the White Sox “reimagine” that department.
Thomas had been a staple of the organization for nearly three decades, 2021 being his 27th with the team. After playing two minor league seasons for the White Sox in 1996 and 1997, he was hired to the conditioning staff in 1998, 18 of those many seasons spent as the director of strength and conditioning.
But the White Sox are making a change after a season that was, in part, defined by significant injuries to key pieces. Middle-of-the-order hitters Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal missed months at a time. Nick Madrigal was knocked out for the season before being traded across town in a deadline deal. And there were plenty more trips to the injured list between April and October, many of them the result of hamstring issues.
“Availability’s a big part of winning,” Hahn said Friday, “and it’s important for us to find a way to maximize (the players') availability. Sometimes stuff just happens. We realize that. But we want to make sure we’re doing everything within our power to keep guys healthy, keep them on the field and keep them productive, which, again, has led us to reexamining what we’re doing in that area.”
As for La Russa and his staff, the manager made it known that he would be back for 2022 in an interview with the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan, the 77-year-old Hall of Famer taking another crack at accomplishing the goal he was brought in to achieve: winning the World Series.
La Russa’s assistants took some heat as the White Sox made a quick exit from the postseason, and Hahn was asked about some of the things the team was criticized for doing in those woeful playoff games against the Houston Astros, specifically a lack of extra-base hits and a small number of defensive shifts.
Hahn spent a good amount of time describing that while the White Sox ranked last in the number of shifts deployed, they were especially effective in preventing hits when the infield did shift.
As for a lack of extra-base hits in the American League Division Series — the Astros’ 12 were twice as many as the White Sox’ six — Hahn had this to say:
“There’s room to improve. I assure you, no one is instructing anyone to hit the ball on the ground. That is not happening.”