Unpacking Adam LaRoche’s Decision to Retire

Several athletes are voicing their support of Adam LaRoche’s abrupt decision to retire this week after White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams reportedly told LaRoche to limit his son’s time in the clubhouse.

LaRoche, a former first baseman who became a designated hitter for the White Sox, brought his 14-year-old son Drake to the clubhouse so often that Drake had his own locker.

Other White Sox players appeared to have no problem with Drake hanging out with them and reportedly considered boycotting Wednesday’s spring training game to show support for LaRoche.

LaRoche himself spent a lot of time in the locker room with his father, who was also a professional baseball player. But that is not necessarily the norm for a locker room.

Host Phil Ponce spoke with veteran WBEZ sports reporter Cheryl Raye Stout about the unfolding fallout, LaRoche’s 12-year career and locker-room culture.

“This was very unusual. This was every day for this young man, and some people may have been uncomfortable,” Raye Stout said.

According to Raye-Stout, there was a confrontation between White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams and the players, who threatened to boycott in a show of support for LaRoche.

“But what we don’t know is, were there players who went to Ken Williams saying, look, we don’t like this situation,” Raye Stout said.

“The locker room is a sanctuary for players. They go in there, they unload, they like to say and do whatever they want. That’s their time that they can do it. And possibly, some players feel uncomfortable having a youngster there … and they have to be in-check.”

White Sox player Chris Sale reportedly had a heated confrontation with Williams and kicked him out of the locker room.

“The locker room is usually governed by the team and the manager,” Raye Stout said. “It’s very, very unusual for somebody higher in the ranks to come down and make an edict like that.”

There is some speculation that LaRoche may have had other reasons for retiring.

“He was having physical problems. His back was bothering him quite a bit. Some have been speculating that this was his avenue where he can get out,” Raye Stout said. “But with the damage that’s left behind, you now have a chasm between players and management that’s huge.”