GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as he may have desired to, Adam LaRoche couldn’t totally ignore the worst season of his career once he reached the offseason.
The veteran designated hitter/first baseman needed to review what took occurred last season to determine if he could discover why he struggled mightily before he moved on. But as soon as he assessed it properly, LaRoche removed himself as far as he possibly could from his first season with the White Sox.
Shortly after he arrived at Camelback Ranch on Sunday, LaRoche said he’s refreshed and fully removed from a campaign in which he hit .207/.293/.340 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs in 484 plate appearances.
“You can’t help but look at some of it,” LaRoche said. “You kind of look back at what you could have done different, as a team, individually, kind of where things went south and then put it behind you as fast as you can. I felt like I let go of that early on, enjoyed the winter and (am) excited to do it again.
“Last year sucked. It was tough. But I’m over it now.”
Doesn’t matter if a player has two years in the league or 10, hitting the reset button after a poor season is critical. Not once in 2015 could LaRoche maintain a hot streak. He didn’t identify why he struggled on Sunday other than to say he began to press and everything began to snowball — “in the middle of it you try a little too hard and you just don’t recover,” LaRoche said.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes LaRoche’s struggles were a combination of everything, from mental and mechanical issues, to adjusting to the life of a DH and a new league.
But what Ventura — who said at SoxFest that LaRoche must earn playing time this season — likes is how he found the veteran in a good place after he reported to camp on Sunday morning.
“He looks great, he feels good and he's going to be ready to go,” Ventura said. “It's always good to get a reset.
“The biggest thing right now is he comes in in a great frame of mind to help us win games.”
LaRoche spent the offseason relaxing with his family. He also fished and hunted as he always does.
LaRoche is optimistic about his second attempt at being a designated hitter. He thinks he has a better plan on how to fill the time in between plate appearances and is eager to prove he’s up to the challenge. The knee issues that dogged him for the final two months of the season have gone away with rest.
While most of his offseason routine remained the same, LaRoche did make one change. He began to do CrossFit for the first time and said he feels good as he’s about to begin the 13th season of his career.
In an attempt to bounce back, LaRoche wanted to put himself in the best place possible. He wants to be the guy the White Sox signed for two years and $25 million in November 2014.
He has already experienced hell on the diamond, and he isn’t interest in another visit.
“It was tough, it was a grind,” LaRoche said. “It’s just a different feeling coming to the field when you’re feeling good and playing good and winning games. As a team there is just a different atmosphere in there. Unfortunately, the only way you can get it is winning ballgames. So yeah, it was draining. I really don’t want to go through that again.”