ANAHEIM, Calif. — White Sox players had a loud message for LaTroy Hawkins on Wednesday afternoon: don’t mess with our teammate.
Several players and White Sox manager Rick Renteria noted how stunned they were to hear the sharp comments made by Hawkins about Tommy Kahnle during Tuesday night’s Minnesota Twins broadcast. A longtime pitcher turned analyst, Hawkins noted without prompting that he and Kahnle once fought in 2014 when both played for the Colorado Rockies. Shortly after, Hawkins, who played 21 seasons, went on to call Kahnle, “one of the worst teammates I’ve ever had in my life.” Word of the commentary spread rapidly via social media on Tuesday night and White Sox players quickly came to Kahnle’s defense on Wednesday.
“There was no need for him to even say that,” starting pitcher Derek Holland said. “They weren’t even talking about that to begin with. I get that it’s probably not my place to say anything, but (Kahnle) is one of my teammates. He’s been nothing but great to this whole team. And I know every single one of these guys in this clubhouse would back him up. But to bring something up on a live broadcast, which was not even mentioned to begin with, is just childish.”
“There’s no need for that, especially from a guy that has got 20 years in the league and has all the respect from everybody. I respect him, but that comment wasn’t needed. I just felt like he wanted to bring that out to try to make Tommy look like the bad guy when Tommy’s definitely not a bad guy at all.”
“We can easily take a survey in this clubhouse and I would say that 10 out of 10 people will say he’s a great teammate. He’s just very loud and that’s his personality. You can’t take that against him. I wasn’t here for any of that stuff. But from what I was told, things went a little farther than they should have gone. If you’re going to do that, you need to do it to everyone else. Don’t just single out one person. I’ve been with some classy guys and never seen anything like that before. I just thought it was kind of disrespectful for him to bring that up in a situation that didn’t even need to be brought up and make somebody look bad that’s not a bad person.”
A rookie in 2014, Kahnle said Hawkins is allowed to believe what he wants. Even though he doesn’t have any social media accounts, Kahnle heard about the broadcast and only is interested in moving on.
“Stuff happened in the past,” Kahnle said. “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. That’s really all I’ve got. I don’t take it to heart or anything.
“I really have nothing on it. I put it way in the past. I’m over it.
“My friends and people texted me, but it didn’t bother me. I just laughed it off. Oh well. It’s not going to affect me or anybody, so we’re all good here.”
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Not everybody was quite as ready as Kahnle to move on.
Teammates acknowledge that Kahnle is loud and passionate. Kahnle endeared himself to the clubhouse in spring training with a lively impersonation of former WWE wrestler The Ultimate Warrior during a mid-morning presentation that had teammates in laughter. White Sox players know Kahnle to be a playful, energetic kid and what to expect.
“It’s pretty funny because Tommy is not a bad teammate,” veteran reliever Anthony Swarzak said. “It’s that simple. He’s not a bad person. He doesn’t do malicious things to one up the guy next to him. He’s a good guy. He works hard. He cares about the game. He cares about his teammates. He’s a little different. That doesn’t make him a bad person.
“To hear that coming from a guy with the reputation that Hawkins has — he’s known as such a great teammate and to be such a nice guy. The whole thing just seems a little, just so out of nowhere, especially because the incident happened so long ago.”
Renteria said he was caught off-guard by comments. He’s another Kahnle supporter, sometimes referring to the right-hander as Tommy Boy.
“Surprising to me,” Renteria said. “I think everybody in the game has their own opinion about certain things and you run across different people in your life in the game and some people are going to like you and some aren’t going to like you. I happen to like Tommy. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Without going into detail, Holland said he has discussed the 2014 incident with Kahnle several times. His contention is that Hawkins opted to bring up the fight without prompting. Twins play-by-play man Dick Bremer offered Hawkins a way out, noting it was probably “just good-natured, right?” But Hawkins continued on.
“I just don’t like the fact of somebody being singled out like that and it wasn’t even talked about,” Holland said. “Listening to the interview and stuff, it already looked awkward enough when he mentioned it because they didn’t care. They weren’t trying to talk about that because it’s not what it’s about. But I have respect for (Hawkins). He’s been around the game forever. He definitely accomplished a lot, obviously more than I have. But it’s just one of those things that I think he could have handled that a lot better than he did, but it’s just kind of how it is. I’ve got Tommy’s back. I know how Tommy is a good person and like I said, everybody in this clubhouse has his back and we’ll back him up on that.”