PHOENIX — Drake LaRoche has plenty of support within the White Sox clubhouse.
Both outfielder Adam Eaton and executive vice president Kenny Williams said Wednesday that players rallied behind the 14-year-old son of Adam LaRoche during a lengthy meeting Tuesday in which the veteran announced his abrupt retirement. Adam LaRoche informed teammates he intends to retire and forego a $13 million salary after Williams asked him to reduce Drake LaRoche’s clubhouse appearances. Players who had been around Drake LaRoche for the past year said they don’t want to see him or his father go. Eaton said the White Sox didn’t participate in their routine stretching because the meeting went long.
“We wanted Drake in the clubhouse, and we were backing Adam in every aspect,” Eaton said. “In that sense we’re going to miss him. He chose family over allowing his son to be in the clubhouse and we respect what he had to do. The man and the character that Adam LaRoche is, we’re not surprised he chose his family. He’s a God-fearing man, and you have to respect that. It is what it is, a tough little go at it, but I respect his decision.
“We can say we enjoyed Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse and everything he brought in the clubhouse. He brought perspective. He helped out and around, he wasn’t a burden by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t a big problem last year.”
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Drake LaRoche has been around the club on a consistent basis, at home and on the road, since Adam LaRoche signed with the White Sox for two seasons. He also has a locker stall in the clubhouse and did the same when his father played for the Washington Nationals.
Williams knew his decision wouldn’t be popular with players. But he said the choice is more about setting a precedent for future players and has nothing to do with Drake LaRoche’s behavior. Williams said he appreciates how his players rallied together in support of Adam LaRoche and his son during Tuesday’s meeting.
“One thing with regards to this that I really have felt really good about is we felt that they were banding together,” Williams said. “But the way that they banded together to try to protect this young man and their teammate and everything — I told them, it’s admirable, and I love the bond that’s been created.”
Eaton still wasn’t totally comfortable discussing the situation a day later. Technically, Adam LaRoche hasn’t finalized his retirement. But the White Sox also believe he doesn’t intend to retract it.
“I’m on eggshells,” Eaton said. “Adam (LaRoche) doesn’t want to make it a big deal, so it’s kind of tough for me to comment on it. I don’t think he was planning on retiring.
“Adam and Drake are probably the most respected people I’ve ever played with. Drake would clean cleats, he would help out in drills, he’d help pick up baseballs. He’d pick up baseballs if you needed to hit them. He didn’t say boo to anybody. Never a trouble in the clubhouse.”