White Sox

White Sox react after Adam LaRoche speaks about retirement

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USA Today Sports Images

White Sox react after Adam LaRoche speaks about retirement

MINNEAPOLIS — He broke his silence about retirement on Wednesday and while Adam LaRoche has apparently been in some dangerous places, he’s in a comfortable one now.

While the White Sox were surprised to learn Wednesday that last offseason LaRoche wore a hidden camera and worked undercover in Southeast Asian brothels in hopes of rescuing underage sex slaves, reliever Zach Duke knew about his long-time teammate’s work revealed in an ESPN The Magazine story.

Duke said Wednesday he has remained in contact with LaRoche, who abruptly retired from the White Sox last month.

He also said that LaRoche is at peace with the decision to retire early and forgo a $13 million salary. In the story, LaRoche told former teammate Blaine Boyer, who also participated in the undercover work, that he didn’t know how he could return to baseball after all that he had witnessed.

“He’s in a good place,” Duke said. “I knew eventually (LaRoche) was going to move on. But I didn’t expect it this soon. But where he’s at, his perspective on life, it’s a decision he was comfortable with.”

[MORE: Matt Albers continues to excel in tight spots for White Sox]

The White Sox are pleased with how they’ve handled the situation within the clubhouse after a tenuous week that included players speaking out against management and also weighing whether or not to boycott a game.

Aside from the March 18 statement he issued, LaRoche hadn’t spoken out until the interview he granted ESPN last month. LaRoche not only revealed he has no plans to file a grievance with the Major League Baseball Players Association, but also his work for The Exodus Road, which on its web site describes itself as a “growing nonprofit which focuses on bringing strategic solutions to the counter-trafficking movement.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura didn’t know about LaRoche’s offseason activities until he read the story — “it was news to everybody,” he said. Meanwhile, general manager Rick Hahn said he’s pleased with how his team has moved on and didn’t want to discuss whether or not the first baseman had violated his contract.

“At this point, I don’t think there’s really any benefit to rehashing old stories,” Hahn said. “We’ve made a point of saying we’ve turned the page as an organization. The clubhouse has made it clear they turned the page both with their words as well as how they have performed on the field. At this point, the most important matter at hand for us is beating the Twins tonight and that’s where everybody’s focus in that clubhouse is right now.”

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Duke played alongside LaRoche on the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals and the White Sox. He said LaRoche’s interest in working for Exodus Road had increased over the years and he’s now a member of the organization’s board. Even though he knew how dangerous his work was, Duke said LaRoche is committed to the project.

“The brothels are run by some pretty bad organizations, so you can get yourself in some hot water real quick,” Duke said. “It’s something for him that has come on in the last couple of years. He’s grown deeper in his faith with God and he’s so compassionate for other people.

“It’s definitely a passion of his. It’s something that everything he touches seems to do real well because he seems to put a lot of work into it. He’s having a great effect on a lot of people.”

Duke agreed with Ventura’s assessment that players are unified and focused on the field. As Ventura noted, “it’s not personal,” players just needed to worry about baseball. Duke said he’ll continue to keep in contact with LaRoche, who told ESPN he and his family intend to travel indefinitely on the West Coast, including perhaps Alaska.

“It’s one of those situations where we’ve been forced to move on and Adam made his decision,” Duke said. “He’s happy, so we’re finding a way to move on.”

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.”