After 12 years in the majors, one would think Adam LaRoche has almost done it all. But there was a first for the lefty in Friday’s 13-6 blowout loss to the Yankees.
The veteran first baseman was tabbed by manager Robin Ventura to pitch the ninth inning of the game to save some bullpen arms. It was LaRoche’s’ first time on the mound in the majors, and he was thrilled to get the call.
“I have begged every manager I’ve ever played for to let me go out there and pitch,” LaRoche said. “I’ve had three or four situations where, and they’ve all been tie games like in extra innings where we are running low, if we wouldn’t have scored I was going out the next half inning. Sure enough every time we’ve scored to go ahead. Been close, never got to do it. That’s been on my bucket list for a long time.”
LaRoche, whose father, Dave, was a major-league pitcher, pitched a scoreless 1-2-3 ninth inning and even struck out Yankees’ second baseman Brendan Ryan with some high heat that reached 85 mph. His son, Drake, was the most excited of all the people in the dugout. LaRoche’s first strikeout is now up there with some of his other favorite baseball memories.
“It is at this point,” he admitted. “Probably bigger because I’ve waited so long to be able to get it.”
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The slugger hasn’t had the kind of year (.219/.352/.311, 9 HR, 36 RBI) he hoped for when he signed with the White Sox this offseason. His four-hit night was his first since 2012 but it wasn’t enough to keep the team’s momentum rolling over from a successful road trip. Yet his time on the mound put a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing day.
“You can rarely find something to smile about in a beating like that,” LaRoche said. “That kind of gave us all something to laugh about after the game and keep it loose. Baseball wise I haven’t had a ton to smile about this year anyway so that was nice to get out there on the mound and let it go like that.”