PHOENIX — The White Sox asked Adam LaRoche to reduce how much his son, Drake, was around the team, and the veteran not only balked, he retired.
White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams confirmed Wednesday that the slugger announced his retirement a day earlier after the club asked him to limit clubhouse appearances by Drake LaRoche.
Drake LaRoche has been a fixture in the clubhouse both at home and on the road since Adam LaRoche signed with the White Sox last season and long before. By retiring early, LaRoche is forfeiting a $13 million salary this season.
Unpopular as the decision might be, Williams said he wants to establish a precedent as the White Sox try to rediscover a winning formula after three losing seasons. Williams also clarified his decision had nothing to do with the younger LaRoche’s behavior — that no concerns had arisen from players regarding his presence.
“It’s not because the young man was a distraction,” Williams said.
“As we embarked on this season, in the offseason, one thing we talked about the most was let’s check all the columns with regards to our preparation.
“But in management sometimes you’ve got to make some unpopular decisions, and sometimes they center around things that you don’t necessarily want to. In order to maintain consistency, in order to have an answer for the next person that comes along that wants to have his child on the field 100 percent of the time — that’s kind of where we were, was 100 percent of the time, every day — and so yeah I asked him just to dial it back. Even 50 percent is probably too much. But there’s a wide range between zero and 50 percent. So I was a little surprised at the stance he took. It’s unfortunate.”
[MORE WHITE SOX: What's next for White Sox after Adam LaRoche retirement?]
Williams said he and Adam LaRoche discussed the topic twice in the last week, including Sunday.
While Drake LaRoche didn’t attend all 162 games last season, he constantly accompanied the club or road trips and had his own locker next to his father’s in the clubhouse, just as he did with the Washington Nationals.
Williams said he still wants for the White Sox clubhouse to boast a “kid-friendly environment.” He just hoped Adam LaRoche would reduce his son’s appearances to less than 50 percent.
Adam LaRoche — who tweeted “#FamilyFirst” after he retired Tuesday — said he stayed home on Monday to avoid making an emotional decision. He informed manager Robin Ventura of his choice Monday night and that he wanted to inform teammates of his plans during Tuesday’s morning meeting. Williams and outfielder Adam Eaton both said players rallied around Adam LaRoche during the lengthy meeting. Though he agreed to reconsider for a day or two, LaRoche didn’t think he’d budge off his decision.
“I’m confident I am stepping away from baseball,” LaRoche told reporters Tuesday.
[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]
Williams believes Adam LaRoche won’t change his mind, either. The long-time club executive said he admires the veteran’s conviction and willingness to stand up for his family.
Williams said the White Sox would look at their own options first to determine if they can fill the void internally. But Williams also said general manager Rick Hahn provided a preliminary list of external options, too.
While Williams knows he might take flack for the decision, he felt it a necessary one to make.
“Every now and then you have to step in as management and kind of steer the ship in the right direction,” Williams said. “That’s all this is about.
“Sometimes you have to make decisions in this world that are unpopular. I’ve been unpopular before.”