Adam LaRoche’s son provided more drama this offseason than perhaps any 14-year-old in baseball history, but after weeks of national headlines and back-and-forth between and among players, teammates and executives, the Chicago White Sox have to put this soap opera behind them and hunker down for the 2016 season.
You have to wonder, though, whether the drama surrounding LaRoche will linger into April.
“I don’t think so,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think we’re at a point where everybody’s over it. A guy made a decision, he’s not here anymore and guys respect him for that, but you got to move on and do your job. I think in sports, guys are able to do that. Everybody in that locker room is focused and ready to go. It probably took four or five days to be able to get through that, but I think right now these guys are excited for Opening Day, so I don’t see that being the issue going forward. I think they’re all in sync and ready to get out of Arizona and play some baseball.”
LaRoche, 36, hit .207 with 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 133 strikeouts in 127 games last season. He was a solid fielder and provided pop in the batter’s box, but will not play out the second year of the two-year deal he signed in November 2014.
For all the off-field drama, the White Sox are going to miss LaRoche this year, no?
“Yeah, we brought him in to be a first baseman and be a DH and bat behind (Jose Abreu),” Ventura said. “So going into it, we were counting on him to do certain things. I think once you don’t have him, it changes then to now our DH is probably going to be more of rotating position. We’ve got a few outfielders we can fill that void with, but yeah, he was brought in to do a certain thing that we felt like we needed. You have to adjust once he’s not there.”
Todd Frazier, who was acquired from the Reds in December, is expected to hit behind Abreu, who has 66 homers and 208 RBIs in two seasons with Chicago but who also hit just .232 against lefties last seasons.
With Frazier batting clean-up, the White Sox hope Abreu gets more pitches to hit this season.
“Well, it changes the dynamic definitely,” Ventura said. “You bring a guy like Frazier in. There’s always these guys that you bring in that fit personality-wise for a certain type of team. Bringing him in, Jimmy Rollins comes in, Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro, Brett Lawrie – (are) all new guys, but it’s gelled really quick. There’s a certain amount of professionalism that these guys bring. Jimmy had it as soon as he got here. As soon as he walked in the locker room, there was instant respect. He can still play, which is even better. I think you start looking around the room, and in the last couple years we’ve been pretty young in positions and inexperienced. Now we’re very experienced at those spots. Guys just really know how to play. They’ve really clicked together pretty quickly.”