GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The team has already filed the paperwork, but how much Adam LaRoche’s retirement will affect the White Sox remains to be seen.
Club officials finalized LaRoche’s retirement on Friday afternoon as the saga surrounding the presence of his son, Drake, in the clubhouse added several more contentious chapters.
All-Star pitcher Chris Sale went off on executive vice president Kenny Williams, LaRoche said in a statement he retired because of interactions with Williams and manager Robin Ventura said he’d work to get back on track a clubhouse that closer David Robertson describes as dicey.
If that weren’t enough, Williams released a statement to politely disagree with his ace’s thoughts while chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued another instructing members of the organization to no longer discuss the issue and instead worry about baseball.
So, yeah, you could say things have gotten interesting around what previously has been a focused and upbeat White Sox camp.
“It’s a story,” Robertson said. “It has turned into one. There is a lot going on here.
“We’ll see. It’s too early to tell right now. People are still feeling hot and heavy about this situation.”
Friday was the capper to what has proven to be a volatile week at Camelback Ranch.
Williams had the final of several discussions with LaRoche on Sunday, which prompted the veteran to stay away home Monday.
LaRoche addressed the team and retired Tuesday morning. After a heated discussion between Sale and Williams, players protested by not taking the field for morning stretch. They also reportedly considered a boycott of Tuesday’s game -- “it was a very passionate couple of minutes,” Ventura said without confirming reports.
On Wednesday, word leaked that LaRoche’s “#FamilyFirst” Tweet regarded his son and how Williams asked for a reduction in the youngster’s schedule. Williams said he didn’t ban Drake LaRoche outright, but asked for a reduced presence at home and on the road.
LaRoche argued that point in a statement he issued Friday to explain his decision. Not only did he suggest he has an agreement in place with the White Sox about having his son around, LaRoche said Williams requested a “significant reduction” before he banned the 14-year-old altogether.
“Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all,” LaRoche said.
Not even 24 hours away from the facility -- the team didn’t play Thursday -- could temper the situation as evidenced by Sale’s 14-minute media session aimed at Williams’ involvement.
“It’s a sticky situation,” third baseman Todd Frazier said.
Sale accused Williams of lying about why the request was made to LaRoche and said the executive vice president’s actions had thrown a wrench into a spring that was off to a fantastic start. The left-hander said he doesn’t expect the issue to affect his play or the team’s goal of winning. But, Sale is concerned that the White Sox have to move on without “two big pieces.”
“We were rolling,” Sale said. “We had positive energy in here. Nobody saw anything as a distraction until all this happened. We just try to pick up the pieces, collect it all and put it back together and keep trucking.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Ventura has seen his share of these moments before. He was a member of both New York clubs and also played in 1994 when baseball had its last work stoppage. The fifth-year manager has also experienced Sale’s passionate side before and understands the range of emotions his players have experienced this week.
“I’ve been part of a couple of sit-ins,” Ventura said. “It’s not like I haven’t seen it. But that’s part of baseball. It can get passionate and heated.
“It’s always raw any time a guy is released or retired. I’m dealing with that more than any of the other stuff.”
Now the trick is for the White Sox to turn the corner and rediscover the feel they’ve had this entire spring. Outfielder Adam Eaton expects the team will band together. He likes how they’ve supported LaRoche and how they responded Tuesday.
Ventura thinks the club is capable of it, too, even as they navigate a murky situation.
After all, the clubhouse is already unified. It’s just up to Ventura and his coaches to point them in the right direction.
“That’s my concern, to get them focused right back on track and ready for the season so everybody has their job to do and get out there and be ready to do it,” Ventura said. “They’re going to be all right. They’re a tough group. One thing is for sure, they’re together, 100 percent.”