GLENDALE, ARIZONA – The uproar over Adam LaRoche’s abrupt retirement from the Chicago White Sox turned ugly Friday, with ace Chris Sale accusing an executive vice president of lying to the team about the reasons LaRoche’s son needed to spend less time around the clubhouse.
LaRoche announced this week he was leaving after Kenny Williams asked him to cut the amount of time his 14-year-old son, Drake, was spending with the White Sox. The incident sparked anger from players across the major leagues and prompted questions about the balance between work and parenting.
LaRoche, who joined Chicago after playing for the Washington Nationals, for the first time spoke publicly Friday about what happened and he singled out Williams.
“Prior to signing with the White Sox, my first question to the club concerned my son’s ability to be a part of the team,” he wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “After some due diligence on the club’s part, we reached an agreement. The 2015 season presented no problems as far as Drake was concerned. (My bat and our record are another story!).
“With all of this in mind, we move toward the current situation which arose after White Sox VP Ken Williams recently advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse. Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all.”
The 36-year-old LaRoche said he instead chose to retire and walk away from a $13 million salary.
Sale, team’s All-Star pitcher, hung Drake’s uniform outside his locker at the spring training complex in suburban Phoenix.
White Sox players were told three different stories about what happened, Sale said.
“This is a bigger issue than being told his son can’t be around. It’s a much deeper issue,” Sale said, then referred directly to Williams: “We got bold-faced lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust.”
“He came to the players and said it was the coaches. He went to the coaches and said it was the players. Then he came in here and said it was the owner,” Sale said. “If we are all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”
In a brief response issued by the club, Williams said: “While I disagree with Chris’ assertions today, I certainly always have appreciated his passion.”