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.”

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

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GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

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USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.