Adam LaRoche opens up about retirement, Drake, sex-slavery in Asia and other things

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Last month Adam LaRoche’s retirement distracted baseball for a week. The circumstances of it — he was asked not to bring his son Drake to the clubhouse all the time — were strange and his decision seemed remarkably abrupt. People spent so much time focusing on the Drake LaRoche part of it all that they didn’t really think too hard of the Adam LaRoche part of it. What makes that guy tick that he’d walk away from $13 million over such an odd little dispute?

Today, in ESPN the Magazine, Tim Keown takes us into LaRoche’s world. And it’s a weird world. On the one hand there are a lot of the trappings we’ve come to expect from an American ballplayer from a decidedly non-urban area. Bow hunting, family, friendships with country singers and “Duck Dynasty” cast members and the like. A quote about how the clubhouse is sacred because “there’s no other workplace where you walk in and guys are slapping each other in the nuts and saying the stuff they do,” which I figure is a good thing, but who knows?

Then there is . . . the unexpected:

Then there’s this: LaRoche, along with Brewers pitcher Blaine Boyer, spent 10 days in November in Southeast Asian brothels, wearing a hidden camera and doing undercover work to help rescue underage sex slaves. All of which raises a question: After 12 years in the big leagues, the endless days and nights in dugouts and clubhouses, how did LaRoche’s nearly cinematic level of nonconformity escape detection?

The details of that operation are in the story. It’s definitely something.

Aside from just that, the whole piece has a McNulty-from-the-Wire “who the f*** was I chasing?” air to it. And there are great details, such as the fact that, after Ken Williams told LaRoche to “dial back” the presence of Drake in the clubhouse, LaRoche and his buddy Boyer went over his decision to retire “with the help of a bottle of Crown Royal . . . while Boyer cross-examined.” To be a fly on that wall.

Fascinating piece about a guy who, even if we still don’t fully understand him or his decision, is pretty interesting all the same.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.