The White Sox have formally announced their 2021 major league coaching staff this afternoon, 34 days after they announced the hiring of new manager Tony La Russa. I think the duration between the October 29 hiring of La Russa and today only seems like forever due to the turbulent start to La Russa’s second go-round with the White Sox (more on that after the coaching staff details).
Manager — Tony La Russa
La Russa rejoins the White Sox for his second tour of duty with the franchise that fired him all the way back in 1986. In decades since, La Russa won three World Series Championships with the Oakland Athletics (1989) and St. Louis Cardinals (2006, 2011) and brings a Hall of Fame (literally) resume to the table that includes 2,728 victories as a skipper and four Manager of the Year Awards.
For all the accolades that come with La Russa so comes his fair share of baggage though, including and most notably, his history of driving drunk. There have also been public comments by the 76-year-old that have been called racially insensitive over the years.
Bench Coach — Miguel Cairo
Cairo was most recently a minor league infield coordinator. Cairo previously spent time with the Cincinnati Reds in their front office as special assistant to then-general manager Walt Jocketty.
Cairo played in the big leagues for the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Cubs, Rays, Cardinals (where La Russa was the manager), Mariners, Phillies, and Reds over parts of 17 seasons as a player in Major League Baseball.
Hitting Coach — Frank Menechino
Menechino enters his second season as the hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox and saw his hitters ascend to the top of the American League in nearly every category in 2020 on their way to their first postseason appearance since 2008.
Assistant Hitting Coach — Howie Clark
Clark is a promotion from Triple-A Charlotte where he spent one season in the hitting coach spot vacated by Menechino last season. Clark previously spent three seasons as the assistant hitting coach of the Baltimore Orioles.
Clark was a utility player over parts of seven seasons playing for the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Twins.
Pitching Coach — Ethan Katz
Katz — probably the single most exciting hire of the entire staff — comes to the White Sox after spending 2020 as an assistant pitching coach for the San Francisco Giants under skipper Gabe Kapler and pitching coach Brian Bannister.
You can read more on Katz in my story on he and new Tigers’ pitching coach Chris Fetter from last month.
Assistant Pitching Coach — Curt Hasler
Hasler, 55, has served in his current capacity since 2017 and was at one-time a draft pick of the Chicago White Sox, selected in the 21st round of the 1987 MLB Draft. Hasler has spent his entire playing and coaching career with the White Sox, pitching in the minors from 1987-91 before becoming a pitching coach at the Rookie and Class-A levels.
You can read more about Hasler in my earlier analysis of internal pitching coach candidates.
First Base Coach — Daryl Boston
Boston returns to a position that he has held since the start of the 2013 season. Prior to becoming the first base coach in 2013, Boston was a part of the player development team on the minor league side from 1998-2002.
Third Base Coach: Joe McEwing
Super Joe McEwing returns to the staff in a new position after La Russa replaced him as the bench coach (where he spent three seasons under Ricky Renteria) with Miguel Cairo.
McEwing was the third base coach for the White Sox from 2012-2016 under former manager Robin Ventura.
Analytics Coordinator — Shelley Duncan
Shelley Duncan — son of Dave Duncan — comes to the White Sox after spending three seasons as the “Major League Field Coordinator” for the Toronto Blue Jays. Shelley was hired by Blue Jays’ skipper Charlie Montoyo in 2018.
Prior to that Duncan was a coach at various levels in the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league affiliate system from 2015-2018 and won a championship as the manager of the Double-A Jackson Generals in 2018.
Duncan played seven seasons for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Tampa Bay Rays before beginning his coaching career.
More on Tony La Russa…
James Fegan of The Athletic reported on Tuesday morning that a motion for a change of plea has been filed in La Russa’s pending drunk driving case in Arizona.
According to Fegan La Russa previously plead not guilty in the matter, but now seemingly intends to change his plea to that of guilty on December 21, potentially bringing this matter to a resolution well ahead of Spring Training.