As the White Sox contend with a surprise retirement, their most famous planned retiree in recent years, Paul Konerko, visited Camelback Ranch. Colleen Kane of the Tribune has a story about him and it’s pretty enlightening with respect a recently-retired player’s mindset.
Konerko is entering his second season as a civilian and he’s not at all ready to come back as a coach or in some other formal capacity. He has little kids at home still and talks about “burnout” from baseball. From the context it’s not the same sort of burnout you or I might feel at our regular jobs as there isn’t an element of, I dunno, disillusion to it that your typical burnt out office worker feels. It’s more like being spent. Like, Konerko was just done with baseball when he left and still feels done with it and doesn’t have an itch to return. Unlike some players who try to come back, you get the sense that Konerko left at just the right time.
He also offers this glimpse into the day-to-day of retired life, which I found amusing:
“The first year is great because everything that happens, good or bad, you’re like, ‘This is great,’ because it’s a new experience,” Konerko said. “Even when stuff goes wrong, something breaks at the house, you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m here to fix it. This is great.’
“After the first year, you’re like, ‘All right, I’ve been running a lot of errands to the store.’ Doing the same things over and over again, it kind of gets monotonous.”
And then, a year or two later, after the runs to the store go from monotonous to miserable, you replace Robin Ventura, presumably.
Rule 5 draft picks are guys taken by one team from the roster of another team. The key thing about Rule 5 draft picks — the number one thing you need to know about them — is that if they do not stay on the 25-man roster of the team which selected them all season, they are sent back to their old team. Often times a team will stash a Rule 5 pick on the disabled list so they can keep him without him counting against the 25-man, but not always. No, sometimes they just get a look at him, decide they don’t really need him after all and send him back to the team from which they drafted him.
Evan Rutckyj was a Rule 5 draft pick of the Braves last December. He was selected from the Yankees. Earlier this week Rutckyj was interviewed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He had all kinds of nice things to say about being on the Braves. Most of which were described by negative comparison with what he experienced while on the Yankees:
“I feel like we can talk to anybody here,” said Rutckyj, (pronounced RUT-skee). “It’s kind of different from the Yankees, where if one of the coordinators or somebody walks by you, like, put your head down and mind your own business. But here everybody wants you to talk to them.”
That’s not exactly the sharpest smack talk, but in baseball anything less than glowing praise for your team and organization is considered controversial. Even if it’s merely by comparison, saying that a club is a place where you can’t talk to people and you have to put your head down and mind your own business is not likely to be too well-received, even if it’s true. In the Star Wars universe The Empire thinks they’re the good guys. In baseball, the Yankees probably think they’re a fun-loving and friendly organization.
All of which creates a problem for the Rutckyi, because today the Braves cut him and sent him back to the Yankees.
It’s not that long a drive from Disney World to Tampa, but I feel like it’ll be an unpleasant drive for him given the reception he’s likely to receive.
(h/t to Mike Axisa)
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.