White Sox

White Sox players supported Adam LaRoche, son in Tuesday meeting

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White Sox players supported Adam LaRoche, son in Tuesday meeting

PHOENIX — Drake LaRoche has plenty of support within the White Sox clubhouse.

Both outfielder Adam Eaton and executive vice president Kenny Williams said Wednesday that players rallied behind the 14-year-old son of Adam LaRoche during a lengthy meeting Tuesday in which the veteran announced his abrupt retirement. Adam LaRoche informed teammates he intends to retire and forego a $13 million salary after Williams asked him to reduce Drake LaRoche’s clubhouse appearances. Players who had been around Drake LaRoche for the past year said they don’t want to see him or his father go. Eaton said the White Sox didn’t participate in their routine stretching because the meeting went long.

“We wanted Drake in the clubhouse, and we were backing Adam in every aspect,” Eaton said. “In that sense we’re going to miss him. He chose family over allowing his son to be in the clubhouse and we respect what he had to do. The man and the character that Adam LaRoche is, we’re not surprised he chose his family. He’s a God-fearing man, and you have to respect that. It is what it is, a tough little go at it, but I respect his decision.

“We can say we enjoyed Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse and everything he brought in the clubhouse. He brought perspective. He helped out and around, he wasn’t a burden by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t a big problem last year.”

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Drake LaRoche has been around the club on a consistent basis, at home and on the road, since Adam LaRoche signed with the White Sox for two seasons. He also has a locker stall in the clubhouse and did the same when his father played for the Washington Nationals.

Williams knew his decision wouldn’t be popular with players. But he said the choice is more about setting a precedent for future players and has nothing to do with Drake LaRoche’s behavior. Williams said he appreciates how his players rallied together in support of Adam LaRoche and his son during Tuesday’s meeting.

“One thing with regards to this that I really have felt really good about is we felt that they were banding together,” Williams said. “But the way that they banded together to try to protect this young man and their teammate and everything — I told them, it’s admirable, and I love the bond that’s been created.”

Eaton still wasn’t totally comfortable discussing the situation a day later. Technically, Adam LaRoche hasn’t finalized his retirement. But the White Sox also believe he doesn’t intend to retract it.

“I’m on eggshells,” Eaton said. “Adam (LaRoche) doesn’t want to make it a big deal, so it’s kind of tough for me to comment on it. I don’t think he was planning on retiring.

“Adam and Drake are probably the most respected people I’ve ever played with. Drake would clean cleats, he would help out in drills, he’d help pick up baseballs. He’d pick up baseballs if you needed to hit them. He didn’t say boo to anybody. Never a trouble in the clubhouse.”

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.