Adam LaRoche just issued a statement about his retirement and the controversy surrounding it, him, his son Drake LaRoche and the Chicago White Sox. The full statement can read here. The short version: he feels that Ken Williams did him dirty.
LaRoche said he and the Sox had an agreement that Drake could be in the clubhouse. He doesn’t say how often or whether the agreement was reduced to writing. He did say that both in Washington and in Chicago, he “made clear that if there was ever a moment when a teammate, coach or manager was made to feel uncomfortable, then [he] would immediately address it.” LaRoche said that he realized “that this is their office and their career, and it would not be fair to the team if anybody in the clubhouse was unhappy with the situation. Fortunately, that problem never developed.”
LaRoche said everything was fine until Ken Williams approached him and “advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse. Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all.” This explains the initial report from Ken Rosenthal that Drake LaRoche was “barred” from the clubhouse. It was later walked back, by Ken Williams it should be noted, to be merely a scaling-back of his presence.
LaRoche concludes by saying that the decision to choose between his career and his family was “easy,” and that “in no way was it a reflection of how I feel about my teammates, manager, general manager or the club’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf.” No Ken Williams mentioned there, notably.
After some broad words about the importance of his family and the importance of parents spending as much time with their children as they can, he concludes:
I will leave you with the same advice that I left my teammates. In life, we’re all faced with difficult decisions and will have a choice to make. Do we act based on the consequences, or do we act on what we know and believe in our hearts to be right? I choose the latter.
The ball is in Ken Williams’ court, it would seem. And in the court of anyone who set this process in motion beyond him.
I’ve speculated that a White Sox player probably complained about Drake LaRoche. Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated has another explanation which could be even more likely, at least insofar as these things can be measured by the application of Occam’s Razor: White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf complained.
That would explain Ken Williams falling on his sword over it. It would likewise explain Chris Sale‘s allegation that Williams tried to blame players for it in that heated team meeting. Williams feeling the heat because he’s not being truthful but not so much heat that he’s gonna rat out his boss. As for why Reinsdorf might have made an issue out of it? Eh, old man billionaire owner doesn’t like to see kids running around and just finally noticed how often Drake LaRoche is hanging out.
Like we’ve said: we don’t know. We can only speculate. That’s not some bad speculating. We’ll eventually know the facts. In the meantime, Reinsdorf issued a statement about all of this which is kind of hilarious:
I’m sure he really “appreciates” the interest in this story and it’s not at all a horrifying distraction which unexpectedly blew up way bigger than anyone assumed it would.
Adam LaRoche is going to give a statement about his retirement here shortly. I’d like to think it’ll be a barn-burner, but I’m guessing he’ll take the high road and let Chris Sale scorch the Earth and, um, the barn for him.
“This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.” — Admiral Josh Painter, “The Hunt for Red October.” Or maybe it was Chris Sale who said it. Hard to tell at this point.
Emotions and anger boiled over at White Sox camp in Glendale today, as Chris Sale went off on Executive Vice President Ken Williams over the ongoing Adam LaRoche drama. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Sale hung up Adam LaRoche and Drake LaRoche uniforms in his locker. A gesture often reserved for, you know, players who died. In case you were wondering how some of the Sox players feel about this whole situation.
The Drake jersey had words written on it to Sale from the young man which read “Thanks for everything. I’ll never forget you!” It’s as if he was lost at sea, not out hunting with his dad someplace at the moment.
Sale then expressed to reporters just how upset he and some of his teammates are:
Adam Eaton, the club’s union rep, was the latest voice to suggest that LaRoche’s contract had language in it which ensured Drake LaRoche’s presence in the clubhouse. As we noted before, it’s quite possible that the language did not speak to a specific amount of time Drake could be there, which may have made Ken Williams feel comfortable asking Adam to limit his son’s access. As we also noted before, however, in the context of a grievance over this, the contract language may not really matter as much as custom, habit and expectations. Either way, Eaton suggested that a grievance would be filed and that he is going to be in contact with the MLBPA.
I’m stuck on Sale’s accusation that Williams lied. That Williams blamed teammates and coaches for the new Drake LaRoche policy. Williams said before that he was acting on his own accord, not at the request of Sox players. Sale said Williams blamed others. Was that a lie or did he lie about player complaints? One of them would have to be a lie, no? Assuming he said what Sale said he said.
You know where I stand on this, of course, but that hardly matters at this point. What matters is that the Sox’ ace — and likely several other players for whom he presumably speaks — is up in arms. At the moment he’s up in arms at his front office. But if other players complained about Drake LaRoche — and it’s likely that they did — how long until Sale comes to accept that? And then what happens? If Sale is this angry in front of reporters about a team executive, how is he going to respond to White Sox players once he realizes that this wasn’t all just Ken Williams’ doing?