Craig Calcaterra

It finally comes out: Several White Sox players complained about Drake LaRoche

172 Comments

When the Adam LaRoche news broke last week — which, from now on, we will refer to as DrakeGhazi — the claim was made that the process was set in motion by Ken Williams. Chris Sale and Adam Eaton unambiguously claimed in the media that no player on the White Sox’ roster had a problem with Drake LaRoche. Adam LaRoche said, in his statement, that his only issue was with Ken Williams, strongly implying the same. Even Ken Williams — at least publicly — said that limiting and/or barring Drake LaRoche’s access, which led to Adam LaRoche’s retirement, was his call.

As I said when this story came out, it didn’t add up. Sale and Eaton’s talk of the clubhouse being unified and Williams’ nodding about the “bonding” of the clubhouse over all of this didn’t make sense. Rather, I and many others surmised, this was likely a situation in which White Sox players — maybe several of them — complained to Ken Williams about Drake LaRoche’s presence and Ken Williams (a) was doing their bidding in limiting/barring Drake LaRoche’ and (b) took the heat for it so there was not a clubhouse rift. Occam’s Razor suggested that this was the more likely situation, no matter what the official line was.

Occam’s Razor did not fail us. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports:

. . . while the early evidence frames this as a Williams vs. LaRoche battle over clubhouse time for LaRoche’s son, multiple baseball officials with direct knowledge of the Adam LaRoche brouhaha told USA TODAY Sports a different tale.

Several players and staff members privately complained to White Sox management recently about the constant presence of LaRoche’s 14-year-old son, Drake, in the clubhouse.

While one may be tempted to say this doesn’t much matter now because LaRoche is gone, the fact is that the behavior of all of the parties in the past few days makes this a pretty big deal.

There was a heated team meeting about this on Tuesday. A meeting Chris Sale said presented a White Sox team entirely on the same page regarding the LaRoches. So much so that a boycott of Wednesday’s spring training game was considered. In the following days Sale accused Ken Williams of lying when he said that players or coaches complained and he hung up the LaRoches’ jerseys in his locker. The team kept Drake LaRoche’s nameplate up on his locker in his memory. Yesterday Adam Eaton talked about how Drake LaRoche was a team leader, for crying out loud.

Now Sale and Eaton — and, one presumes, some other players for whom they were speaking — know that what they initially believed was not true. They now know that there was not unanimous acceptance of Drake LaRoche. At the very best the Sale-Eaton contingent have to be embarrassed at how far out on the limb they got on this, portraying clubhouse ambivalence as clubhouse unity. More concerning, however, is that the Sale-Eaton contingent may now feel as though their teammates lied to them. Either by voicing disingenuous support for the LaRoches while they secretly complained or by keeping silent and allowing that impression to be created.

There will be some tempted to play the role of savvy cynic and say “eh, Sale and Eaton probably knew others complained and were just being dramatic.” I think that’s pretty unlikely. To say the things they said and to act in the manner they did — remember, they were talking about boycotting a game over this — while knowing that others in the clubhouse didn’t agree with them would itself be an act of clubhouse dissension. They’d be publicly rubbing their teammates’ noses in the matter and passive-aggressively calling them out. That’s not something players would do lightly or easily. No, I believe they took the stance that they did because they truly believed they were in an us (players) against him (Ken Williams) situation. I believe that they believed that no uniformed White Sox personnel had an issue with Drake LaRoche. Remember, when Ken Williams privately suggested that to Sale, Sale accused him of lying.

They have now found out they were wrong. Moreover, I presume that they will soon find out who, exactly, complained about Drake LaRoche. They will find out whose complaints set the ball in motion for the retirement of one of their favorite teammates and whose silence led them to, quite frankly, take some pretty ridiculous public positions on the matter. And then they’ll have to spend the next six and a half months working, traveling and living with them.

That ought to be fun.

Adam Eaton: “We lost a leader in Drake”

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2015, file photo, Chicago White Sox's Adam LaRoche, left, and his son Drake walk to the White Sox's clubhouse during a photo day before a baseball spring training workout in Phoenix. Told to cut down his son's time in the clubhouse, LaRoche took a different path: He said he planned to retire and walk away from a $13 million salary. White Sox President Kenny Williams confirmed Wednesday, March 16, 2016, that he twice asked LaRoche in the last week to "dial it back" with his 14-year-old son. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
65 Comments

There are arguments on both sides of the Drake LaRoche matter. As I’ve said: I get it if the team wanted to get the kid out of the clubhouse and I’m sympathetic to the White Sox players over what many of them perceive to be Ken Williams jerking them around. I still think there’s more to it than we know, but the players who have been vocal seem to be genuinely upset about how it all went down and, hey, we all hate it when work stuff goes south.

At some point, however, you gotta just suck it up and do your job. No one died here. Feelings may linger and everything, but at some point you can lay it on a bit too thick.

For example:

Um, OK.

Theory 1: Eaton is really super broken up about all of this and, as any of us might from time to time, is engaging some hyperbole here due to a momentary loss of perspective.

Theory 2: A 14-year-old boy really was a team leader for the Chicago White Sox.

If you’re a Sox fan, you had better hope it was Theory 1 because if it was Theory 2 your boys are in some serious, serious trouble.

Surprise! Bronson Arroyo’s Doctor misread his MRI, career not over after all

Washington Nationals' Bronson Arroyo pitches against the Houston Astros in the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Viera, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
23 Comments

Earlier in the week Bronson Arroyo got some bad news from his doctor: he had a torn rotator cuff and his career was basically over. Last night, however, Ken Rosenthal reported that the doctor had misread the MRI.

The actual problem: inflammation in his bursa sac. Which, rather than ending his career merely requires that he be sidelined for the next 7-10 days before being re-evaulated.

It’s not fabulous that a couple of throwing sessions in spring training has knocked Arroyo out like this, but it’s obviously much much better for him that he can still try to come back. Whether he’s a part of the Nationals rotation this season or not is an open question, of course.