At least some of the impetus behind Adam LaRoche’s decision to retire appears to be the White Sox’ request that he bring his son into the clubhouse less frequently, Dejan Kovacevic of DKPittsburghSports.com reports (Twitter links). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that LaRoche retired because his son wouldn’t be allowed in the clubhouse at all, but club president Kenny Williams clarified to Rosenthal that he only requested LaRoche reduce the frequency of the practice.
Meanwhile, Williams also spoke to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin (Twitter links), leaving Merkin with the impression that LaRoche has signed his retirement papers but that they’ve yet to be filed with the league. Indeed, we heard yesterday that the veteran first baseman/DH was going to wait at least a few days before formalizing the decision.
In his comments to Merkin, Williams made clear that the request was “not even close to being personal,” noting that he respects LaRoche as a man and as a father. The executive also emphasized in his statement to Rosenthal that his request was not due to any direct concerns about LaRoche’s son. He explained that “there has been no policy change with regards to allowance of kids in the clubhouse, on the field, the back fields during spring training.”
Instead, per Williams, he told LaRoche: “Listen, our focus, our interest, our desire this year is to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity to focus on a daily basis on getting better. All I’m asking you to do with regard to bringing your kid to the ballpark is dial it back.” Williams went on to tell Rosenthal: “We all think his kid is a great young man. I just felt it should not be every day, that’s all. You tell me, where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?”
Needless to say, the subject is a difficult one, and it is certainly possible to see both the team’s viewpoint and to understand LaRoche’s own decision. He has long enjoyed the chance to spend time with his son at the park, especially during Spring Training, dating back to his time with the Nationals. Notably, of course, LaRoche has not yet commented on the matter himself, and it would be wise to withhold judgment until the full story is told.
Things get more complicated when weighing the nuanced interests at play for the White Sox. LaRoche struggled mightily last year and has been limited by back issues this spring. And he’s due to earn $13MM — more than a tenth of the club’s overall payroll. While there’s still reason to believe that LaRoche can contribute at the major league level, he also doesn’t represent an appealing value at that price tag.
Speculation has already turned to what the club might do to replace the left-handed lineup production, and how it might re-allocate the dollars that were destined for LaRoche. Williams touched upon the topic in his comments to Merkin (Twitter link), saying: “We think internally we’ve got an interesting opportunity to rotate the DH position.” Among the internal options, presumably, are defensively-limited outfielders Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia. The club will look at its own players first, per Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter), but has also begun to consider external replacements.