LaRoche flap with Sox continues: Couldn't he just 'dial it back'?
The Chicago White Sox had a break in the schedule on Thursday, and it could not have come at a better time.
March Madness hit Sox spring training camp earlier this week, starting on Tuesday when 36-year-old designated hitter Adam LaRoche dropped a bombshell by announcing his retirement and walking away from his $13 million salary this season.
On Wednesday, we found out why.
Last week, White Sox vice president Kenny Williams asked LaRoche to "dial it back" with his son Drake, who had become a daily presence in the clubhouse from the start of spring training to the end of the regular season.
It was a reasonable request, in my opinion, but LaRoche obviously had different feelings and decided to call it quits.
This story has caught fire around the country -- and around the world. For the first time in 23 years covering the Sox, I was contacted by a sports talk radio station in Australia. Let's just say they didn't want to talk about the White Sox' platoon situation at catcher.
These mates wanted to talk about the dysfunction in the White Sox family, and there are valid points to be made on both sides.
On the LaRoche front, there was nothing in his contract granting his son 100 percent access to the Sox' clubhouse. Williams confirmed that to the Daily Herald on Wednesday.
But there was apparently a "handshake" agreement between LaRoche and the White Sox when he signed a two-year, $25 million contract before the 2014 season.
Williams decided to pull that hand back, and LaRoche obviously didn't like it.
Key questions here -- why didn't this happen before spring training started? Or, was it addressed, and LaRoche chose to ignore the request to scale back the father-son time?
When asked for a comment on Thursday, Williams replied: "No thanks."
Staying on the Williams front, he's not happy about three straight losing seasons, and he let the White Sox know it before the first full-squad spring workout last month.
"Either fall in line or get the (bleep) out," Williams said.
With LaRoche, Williams said he didn't want his son Drake completely out of the clubhouse. Just "dial it back," which is a reasonable request.
You might think LaRoche didn't budge, and Williams didn't budge, which prompted the former to walk away from $13 million. That is accurate.
But this story is not over.
According to multiple reports, Sox players considered boycotting Wednesday's Cactus League game against the Milwaukee Brewers in support of LaRoche, but manager Robin Ventura intervened and halted the mutiny.
White Sox ace Chris Sale, according to multiple reports by YahooSports writer Jeff Passan, ESPN's Karl Ravich and others, got into a shouting match with Williams on Wednesday, telling him to get out of the clubhouse.
That's not surprising, considering Sale and Williams both have explosive tempers and they clashed in 2012 when the Sox tried to move Sale from the starting rotation to closer to protect his health.
While you can give Sale, Adam Eaton and other Sox players credit for going to the mat for a teammate, it still comes back to this for me -- why couldn't LaRoche just scale it back with son Drake?
When this all shakes out, heck, LaRoche hasn't even officially retired yet, the White Sox' focus will return to baseball. There are too many new faces on the roster that are going to quickly move on from the LaRoche situation and concentrate on winning games.
And let's be honest here, on the baseball front: LaRoche's decision to retire is an unequivocal addition by subtraction for the Sox.
Coming off a dismal 2015 season -- LaRoche batted .207 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI -- the veteran DH was slowed by back spasms this spring and played in only one full exhibition game, the first one.
The White Sox tried to trade LaRoche this winter, and they wanted next to nothing in return. They offered to pay a significant chunk of his $13 million salary.
There was zero interest, but that has changed.
Pardon the pun, but boy, has that changed.
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