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Editorial: White Sox err with LaRoche

Adam LaRoche and son Drake head to the clubhouse during spring training last year. LaRoche abruptly retired after White Sox vice president Ken Williams asked him to scale back his son's time with the team. File photo by John Locher, AP.

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Ken Williams committed a costly error. That’s why some White Sox players smelled something foul in the air at spring training when designated hitter Adam LaRoche abruptly retired.

If the White Sox executive vice president wanted LaRoche to scale back bringing his son, Drake, to the ballpark, a policy outlining how often kids could accompany their dads should have been established in time for Opening Day. LaRoche said in a statement Friday that initially he was told to scale back his son’s time with the team and later told not to bring him at all. Williams has said he wanted it dialed back.

LaRoche’s son, who is home-schooled, has accompanied him to the ballpark over five seasons with the Washington Nationals and White Sox. LaRoche said he made an agreement with the White Sox about having his son with the team before signing for 2015.

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The timing of Williams’ request made it look to some like it was tied to LaRoche’s struggles on the field. His batting average slumped at .207 last season. He fought back spasms this season. If LaRoche had All-Star-caliber statistics, would Williams have curtailed his son’s visits? That’s the question some observers are asking.

Williams’ handling of Drake LaRoche’s visits has caused hard feelings among other White Sox players. Pitcher Chris Sale said Williams lied when he explained to the team the circumstances of his request. “There was absolutely no problem in here,” Sale said, adding that Williams “kind of created a problem.”

It’s rare to see kids hanging out in any workplace on a continual basis. Many baseball teams have become more welcoming of children over the years. A 162-game season, half of it spent on the road, leaves little time for players to see their kids. Who can fault a father who wants to share the national pastime with his child?

Still, there’s nothing wrong with putting limits on it. The White Sox erred by not establishing a clear-cut policy that applied to all.

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