SEATTLE -- There are no easy solutions nor is there a quick fix.
Adam LaRoche will earn $13 million in 2016, which means the White Sox won’t designate him for assignment and an offseason trade seems unlikely.
LaRoche is here and for that reason he and the White Sox are caught in a balancing act over the final quarter of the season.
Even though they’ve slipped again in the American League wild-card standings and face nearly impossible odds, manager Robin Ventura has maintained a “focus on winning tonight” attitude that has resulted in LaRoche not playing. At the same time, the White Sox are determined to get LaRoche back on track -- even if it’s mostly with 2016 in mind. So while they intend to give younger players at-bats over the final 43 games, the White Sox know it would behoove them to also help LaRoche -- who has a .210/.298/.345 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 420 plate appearances -- figure this out.
“Given he’s part of what we have going on next year you do want to see him end on a high note and going into the offseason have some confidence and be on the upswing,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “There’s still time for that to happen. He (was) in there (Thursday), but for the last couple days he wasn’t because Robin felt it wasn’t the right matchup. He knows that’s totally in his discretion to set it up the way he sees fit.”
[SHOP: Buy an Adam LaRoche jersey]
The White Sox saw LaRoche as a good fit for the middle of the their lineup when they signed him to a two-year, $25-million deal last November. So far LaRoche has struggled, whether it’s his new role as a designated hitter or facing an entirely new catalogue of pitchers in the AL.
Ventura has done a good bit of juggling, especially over the last month, sitting LaRoche for several days at a time. While LaRoche’s bat speed and swing aren’t seen as an issue, his plate discipline has been -- he’s struck out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances this season.
That has left Ventura to constantly shake up the lineup. Earlier this week, LaRoche -- who said Wednesday he would have benched himself months ago -- didn’t start in three straight games and was relegated to pinch-hitting duty.
“You keep moving things around and see what happens,” Ventura said.
Several times already the White Sox have given LaRoche a few days to work out the kinks in the batting cage. Last month in Boston, LaRoche said he began to feel a little bit better as he went to a wider base in his stance. But that didn’t take.
He received a few more days off earlier this month and continued to experiment.
Though he grounded into a game-ending double play on Wednesday, LaRoche followed with one of his best games in months onThursday and is hopeful he’s had a breakthrough. Not only did LaRoche have just his second multi-hit game since July 8, including a booming two-run homer to right center, he also felt like he was seeing pitches better.
The White Sox would love for LaRoche to build off Thursday’s effort. Not only would it help their extremely limited chances this season, but a rebound from LaRoche could do wonders for the veteran’s second season with the White Sox.
“I felt better at the plate,” LaRoche said Thursday. “It has been a while. So that was good.
“I got some borderline pitches that I saw good. Seems like the majority of this year, I’ve been chasing a lot of those pitches that are just off. It was better.”
“It would be nice to build off of that. I’ve had some of these days where I’ve felt really good and come back out and not have it for a few days. So it’s a positive to see some pitches better. I wasn’t chasing today.”