White Sox

Adam LaRoche informs White Sox he is considering retirement

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Adam LaRoche informs White Sox he is considering retirement

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It isn’t yet official, but Adam LaRoche is prepared to retire and leave behind a $13 million salary.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday afternoon he would wait to receive official word only hours after the veteran first baseman made the surprising announcement to teammates during a morning meeting.

In a last-ditch effort to keep him on the roster, the White Sox have asked LaRoche to reconsider his choice overnight. But manager Robin Ventura conceded that LaRoche, whom he spoke to on Monday night, isn’t one to make a rash decision. Were he to make it official, LaRoche would walk away from all of the $13 million he was set to earn in the final season of a two-year deal with the White Sox.

“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction for him,” Ventura said. “He thinks things out well in advance, and you give him time to be able to do that. I wish we could still give him time to be able to do that. Any time you’re trying to talk to a guy in that situation, you want to make sure he’s thought it all the way through. You give him as much time as he needs to be able to do it. He thinks things out.”

All signs are present that another night won’t convince LaRoche to stay.

Several hours after he informed his teammates of the news, LaRoche sent out a Tweet: “Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved! #Family First”

[MORE WHITE SOX: What can White Sox make of Avisail Garcia's strong spring?]

The slugger’s son, Drake, a fixture in the clubhouse the past season, also left signed versions of his jersey in the stalls of John Danks and Chris Sale to thank them for their friendship.

Even though Hahn said the back spasms that have sidelined LaRoche for more than a week this spring have improved, shortstop Jimmy Rollins wondered if health played a factor.

LaRoche, 36, missed the last few weeks of a dismal 2015 campaign with patella tendonitis. Earlier in the season he was bothered by a wrist injury, and he also occasionally wore an ice pack on his lower back.

“Once a guy makes his mind up, it’s made up,” Rollins said. “If you can get to him before that point your job is just to listen.

“When you get the whole speech it’s like ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ Usually that decision is made before spring training or at the end of the season. He was going to come and give himself a chance. And he’s dealing with back issues again, you start weighing those things out.”

LaRoche briefly spoke to reporters from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times and identified a personal issue he wanted to keep “between me and the guys” as the primary reason for the decision. LaRoche intends to explain further why he wants to retire after he takes another day or two.

But LaRoche also sounds comfortable in his decision.

“I’m confident I am stepping away from baseball,” LaRoche told reporters. “My teammates have asked me for an hour (to reconsider). I’ve tried to convince them I am convinced, but I will do them that and give it a day or two and then come back in and finish the story.

“I didn’t come in (Monday) because I wanted to make sure it was the right move and not make an emotional decision. But I’m confident it is.”

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Teammates said they are stunned by the news.

Todd Frazier sits in the stall next to LaRoche and didn’t have a clue he would call it quits. Frazier sounded both respectful and disappointed that he wouldn’t play next to LaRoche, who has a strong reputation in the clubhouse.

“I’m going to miss him,” Frazier said. “It’s his decision. He decided what he wants to do. Really good guy. You’ve got to respect his decision. Love the guy to death. Known him for almost a month now, he’s going to be missed.

“I didn’t hear anything about it. Came in today and said he was going to retire. That was about it.

“Guy that caliber — he has been around for a long time. Shoot, we want him to be on this squad. We want him to go with us, and he just made his own decision.”

Hahn won’t rule out a return until he’s told the decision is final. But same as LaRoche, he sounds as if he expects LaRoche won’t change his mind.

“After extensive conversations with him, between us, him and the coaches and his teammates, you have to be respectful of the guy and understand his perspective and where he’s coming from,” Hahn said. “We’ll make adjustments and move on.

“At this point it’s simply too early to know how it’s going to play out exactly.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”