Tony La Russa told ESPN.com on Monday that while he respects manager John Farrell and understands his frustration over two key replay calls that went against the Boston Red Sox this weekend, it's "premature" to question the integrity of baseball's replay system just two weeks into its existence.
"One thing I'd say to John -- and I'd love to talk to him because I have great respect for him -- is that, in fairness to the process, we need to keep working at it," said La Russa, a Hall of Fame manager who helped devise the new system for Major League Baseball. "I don't know what the period of time is, whether it's a month or six weeks or whatever it is, but we all have learned from what we've seen.
"But I think it's premature to say the process isn't going to work or he doesn't have confidence in it because, in my opinion, the process has been really remarkable in how well it's worked so far. I'm amazed, in fact, that we haven't had more hiccups."
Farrell's frustrations boiled over Sunday night, when he became the first manager to be ejected for arguing a decision made by replay umpires, not the umpires on the field. The Red Sox manager then raised eyebrows across the sport by saying afterward: "It's hard to have any faith in the system."
Two weeks and 185 games into the season, there have been 84 calls reviewed. Of those, 28 calls (33 percent) have been reversed.
La Russa said Monday that "I don't even get upset" with those comments, because "they're in the spirit of the competition."
"I understand what was said," said La Russa, who managed 33 years in the big leagues, "because it's all in the context of competing to win a game. The whole game revolves around two teams trying to win a game. So in your heart, your gut, your head, you're supposed to get fired up, as a manager, about the key things that help you win or help you lose. That's the way this is supposed to work."
La Russa also said that Farrell's interpretation of Sunday's close play at first base, which reversed an inning-ending double-play call, was incorrect.
The initial call on the field from first-base umpire Bob Davidson was that the Yankees' Francisco Cervelli was out at first on the back end of an around-the-horn double play. Yankees manager Joe Girardi challenged that call, and it was reversed by umpires in the replay command center.
The Yankees scored a run on the play, which proved pivotal in a 3-2 game.
Farrell said afterward that he believed the replays were "inconclusive" and said the "frustrating part is that, when this was rolled out and explained to us, particularly on the throw received by the first baseman, we were instructed when the ball enters the glove -- and not that it has to hit the back of the glove -- is where the out is deemed complete."
La Russa, however, said that isn't how umpires are instructed to make that call. In fact, he said, the opposite interpretation is true -- that umpires are being instructed that a catch is only complete when the ball hits the first baseman's glove, not when it first reaches the glove.