White Sox

Adam LaRoche retired after White Sox asked him to limit son's time with team

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Adam LaRoche retired after White Sox asked him to limit son's time with team

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.

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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.”

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”