Tony La Russa still playing to win, even in games that don’t count

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manager Tony La Russa was back in the dugout for the first time in 10 years, and it felt “familiar.”

So did that feeling after a loss, which still gets in his craw, even in an exhibition game and the first one of the spring at that. The Brewers beat the White Sox 7-2 on Sunday at Camelback Ranch.

“Everybody thought I was foolish my whole career, you know?” La Russa said of underlining the importance of winning spring training games. “I think you’ve got to practice winning. You get 30 chances so you don’t want to wait until Opening Day. Whether the team or a manager, you’re supposed to be using those games to anticipate and make decisions. That’s why I like it, in the sense that when I get to Opening Day or October, there really isn’t any difference in the concentration and the process.”

La Russa, who started his Hall of Fame career as Sox manager in 1979, hasn’t managed since he won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011. He said he was nervous, as always, even before he took the lineup card out to home plate before the game, a card that included pitchers who aren’t expected to be on his Opening Day roster a month from now.

“Nervous about the competition, the outcome and excited that we came back right away to answer in the first [with two runs in…

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