Players, execs address LaRoche situation

Players, execs address LaRoche situation

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Three days after the sudden retirement of Adam LaRoche and a subsequent emotional closed-door exchange between White Sox players and executive vice president Kenny Williams, ace left-hander Chris Sale met with the media for roughly 15 minutes on Friday to clarify his frustration regarding the situation.

Not long after, Williams addressed Sale's comments, followed by owner Jerry Reinsdorf issuing a statement asking the organization to put the focus back on the field. A couple of hours later, LaRoche tweeted out a statement that he said was intended to "provide my perspective" about the controversy surrounding him and his 14-year-old son, Drake.

Sale, the face of the franchise, made it clear that his problem stems from the way it was presented by Williams and the problems that has created.

"You can't come tell the players it was the coaches, and tell the coaches it's the players, and then come in and say something completely different," Sale said. "If we're all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn't happen.

"We have much bigger problems on our hands than Kenny coming in here and kicking out a kid and Roachy retiring. That's the unfortunate part of all of this. But at the end of the day, it wasn't the right thing. There was no problem in here. We were rolling. We had a team coming together, with new guys getting acquainted and playing well -- no hiccups, nothing."

Williams entered the Camelback Ranch complex after White Sox players had spoken, and when apprised of Sale's comments, he said the focus should return to baseball and that if he has something to say about the comments, it will be directly to Sale, not to the media.

"While I disagree with Chris' assertions today," Williams said, "I certainly have always appreciated his passion."

"I've been part of a couple of sit-ins. It's not like I haven't seen it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "But that's part of baseball. It can get passionate and heated."

Reinsdorf, the White Sox chairman, said he wants to move past this situation and get back to baseball.

"While we appreciate everyone's attention and interest, we continue to feel that it would be premature to comment at this time," Reinsdorf said. "This is an internal issue and we are in the process of holding a number of discussions with players, staff and the front office.

"As a result, we do not want to comment until that process is completed. I have instructed members of the organization not to talk about this issue and get our focus back on the field and winning baseball games."

In his statement, LaRoche said he had agreements with the both the White Sox and Nationals, for whom he played from 2011-14, that his son permitted to "be a part of the team," and that there had not been any previous issues.

"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," LaRoche said. "Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all. Obviously, I expressed my displeasure toward this decision to alter the agreement we had reached before I signed with the White Sox. Upon doing so, I had to make a decision. Do I choose my teammates and my career? Or do I choose my family? The decision was easy, but in no way was it a reflection of how I feel about my teammates, manager, general manager or the club's owner Jerry Reinsdorf."

Sale has a history of speaking his mind, having argued in 2012 with Williams, then the general manager, about getting a chance to return to the rotation after he was moved to the bullpen to protect his arm. But his comments on Friday seemed a bit more emotional.

"It's not the fact we have a problem with the rules," Sale said. "We have to wear suits on the plane, we all dress up nice, carry ourselves in professional manners. But when it comes to what goes on in the clubhouse, the right person has to handle that. And that's [manager] Robin [Ventura].

"He's the top, he's the leader of this clubhouse ultimately, and if there's something that needs to be said in here, he can say it. And it's taken with respect, because he's fighting with us. And quite honestly, he has taken heat for us before that he doesn't deserve. So we have faith in him and we trust him."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.