Adam LaRoche has ended his 12-year big league career and his reason is raising eyebrows.
It was initially believed that LaRoche, who had a disappointing 2015 season with the Chicago White Sox, had decided to retire due to injuries. LaRoche, 36, came out of a spring training game on Saturday due to back spasms.
But that wasn’t the reason for LaRoche’s retirement. He is hanging it up because the White Sox no longer want his 14-year old son Drake being in the team’s clubhouse and travelling with the team. Chisox Executive Vice-President Ken Williams emphasized that White Sox management and players had no problem with the younger LaRoche. But I was struck by what he said next:
Let’s check all the columns with regards to our preparation, with regards to our focus, everything to give ourselves the best chance to win and this is not a problem today. But in management you sometimes have to make unpopular decisions.
By “management” I think Williams’ means White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. I say this because Williams didn’t seem comfortable defending the decision.
But the key phrase here is “the best chance to win”. The White Sox have had three consecutive losing seasons. In 2015 the team was expected to contend with the additions of LaRoche, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson plus the presence of stars like perennial Cy Young contender Chris Sale and power hitting Jose Abreu. Instead, the Chisox finished 19 games back of the World Series champion Kansas City Royals. No doubt Williams and manager Robin Ventura are feeling the heat. But that heat shouldn’t be taken out on a teenager.
Greg Amsinger of the MLB Network also makes the point that if LaRoche had hit 30 HR and 100 RBI (as he did with the Washington Nationals in 2012) then Chisox management probably wouldn’t have given the presence of his son a second thought. LaRoche hit .207 with 12 HR and 44 RBI.
It should be noted that LaRoche’s father Dave pitched in the big leagues in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. For many years, LaRoche has been a minor league pitching coach and often had Adam and his younger brothers Andy (who played in the bigs for parts of six seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A’s & Toronto Blue Jays) and Jeff (who pitched in the minors in the Pirates organization) travel with him on the road. So now it is a tradition he wanted to continue with his son.
Now this isn’t the first time the presence of a child in the clubhouse has been an issue. I remember reading Graig Nettles’ autobiography in which he wrote about George Steinbrenner being upset with Ken Griffey, Sr. for having his son in the New York Yankees clubhouse. That son was soon to be Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. who publicly stated in 1995 he would never play with the Yankees for that very reason.
Some might argue that LaRoche shouldn’t take his son to work with him. But LaRoche walked away from $13 million. Say what you will about LaRoche, he isn’t lacking in principle. You can’t say he isn’t a family man.
Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2000, LaRoche reached the big club in 2004 and would also have stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox (for all of six games), back to the Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals before signing a free agent contract with the Chisox in 2015. His best season came in 2012 with the Nats when he hit .271 with 33 home runs and 100 RBI. That year he would finish sixth in NL MVP balloting and win his only Gold Glove for his defense at first base.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://thespectator.com/world.