CHICAGO – It was a question that many had on their minds as the team continued to struggle through the 2022 regular season.

Would Tony La Russa, who had a three-year contract with the White Sox, return as their manager in 2023?

That question was answered officially on Monday, but it had nothing to do with the results on the field, but rather the manager’s health. Along with having a pacemaker put in this year, a second issue was also discovered, and a plan has been put in place to treat that ailment.

Because of that, La Russa is stepping away from the job due to these health-related issues.

“At no time this season did either issue negatively affect my responsibilities as White Sox manager. However, it has become obvious that the length of the treatment and recovery process for this second health issue makes it impossible for me to be the White Sox manager in 2023,” said La Russa in a statement, which he also read to open his news conference on Monday.

One question that naturally came up was if La Russa would have returned to the White Sox if he was healthy for his third season with the club. After all, this 2022 season was a difficult one due to a lack of consistent performance, injuries, some decisions from the dugout, and the team’s lack of offseason moves.

When asked about it, La Russa had a few typical answers along with a new one that he would have considered.

“At the end of the season, I don’t care what your contract is, you want to be sure that the people that make the decisions still want you, and if they say they don’t want you, then you walk away. You don’t stay because they owe you money, you just say ‘I don’t want the money,'” said La Russa. “If they say they want you, then you’ve got to go to the players. If the players don’t want you, then you’re a fraud, you’re a hypocrite if you stay around. The third one would be ‘Hey, do you still want to manage?’

“But there’s a fourth one this year for the first time and that is, which I’ve thought about, there’s enough negativity in my managing, I worried about being a distraction to the ballclub and to our organization. So actually the fans could decide that as far as me personally.

“I don’t know the answer to that. I think some people think I did all right, some people didn’t. It’s academic now with the health. But I never had the fan as a fourth thing before, it was always just the three things.”

It’s an interesting twist to the end of La Russa’s second and much quicker tenure in Chicago.