A bizarre situation unfolded on Wednesday in spring training when Chicago White Sox veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche abruptly retired after he was told by the team to stop bringing his 14-year-old son to the clubhouse so often.
LaRoche’s son, Drake, had been a fixture in his father’s clubhouses both with the Washington Nationals and with the White Sox, where he had his own locker next to his dad.
While the story has sparked discussion on professionalism and workplace atmosphere, it turns out LaRoche’s teammates were so upset at the move that they nearly boycotted their spring training game against the Brewers.
ESPN baseball analyst Karl Ravech discussed the situation on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” where he explained how explosive the situation became behind closed doors.
“This is a team that was not going to go out and practice,” Ravech said. “And furthermore, this was a team that ultimately said to the manager ‘we’re not going to go out and play in that game at 1:00.’ You had a team that was willing to stand by the player and not participate in practice, and moreso, not participate in an exhibition game.”
The only thing that kept the players from boycotting was manager Robin Ventura who told that he needed them to play for him, that it was his job and it was their job. At that point, the players relented.
According to Ravech, the more far-reaching issue here appears to be the front office attempting to control what goes on in the clubhouse, an area which is typically the domain of the players and coaches and an area where front office personnel are not typically welcome.
“The decision by Kenny to limit the amount of time that a child can be in that clubhouse didn’t sit well with the players,” Ravech said. “I think now we have set up in Chicago a situation where managers and players are universally, universally in the same corner and president and G.M. perhaps could be very much in a different corner and the separation needs to be in place.”
Despite the bigger-picture issue, the players do seem to be genuinely upset that Drake will no longer be a part of the team.
“On our side of things, I think everyone would say we enjoyed Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse and everything he brought to the clubhouse,” White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said (via WEEI). “He helped out around and wasn’t a burden by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t a big problem last year, either. … Adam and Drake are probably the most respected people in baseball I ever played with. Drake would clean cleats, he would help out in drills, pick up baseballs when we needed, he didn’t say boo to anybody and was never a trouble in the clubhouse.”
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