After ace pitcher Chris Sale blasted White Sox vice president Ken Williams — charging the executive with lying over the Adam LaRoche saga — chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has instructed team personnel to halt any discussion of the topic while the club investigates.
“While we appreciate everyone’s attention and interest, we continue to feel that it would be premature to comment at this time,” Reinsdorf said in a statement. “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.”
Sale, who gave a heated rebuttal to Williams during a contentious clubhouse meeting Tuesday, showed his support today for Adam LaRoche and his son, Drake, in a blistering commentary.
Sale, the White Sox’ Opening Day starter, had the jerseys of Adam and Drake LaRoche hanging on both sides of his locker in the White Sox’ clubhouse before their game against the Cubs today in Glendale, Arizona.
Inscribed on the younger LaRoche’s jersey was a message from Drake to Sale: “Chris thank you for taking care of me.”
Sale remains upset about how the LaRoche saga was handled and says this is a major issue affecting the team.
“We got bald-faced lied to,” Sale told reporters.
Sale said the team was starting to come together and this bombshell move affected the team negatively.
“This isn’t us rebelling against rules, it’s us rebelling against BS,” Sale said. “Plain and simple.”
Sale contends that Williams contradicted himself during the Tuesday meeting with the players. Sale says Williams told the players that coaches were complaining about Drake’s presence. Then went to coaches and said players were complaining. Then held a clubhouse meeting and said chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was complaining.
“If the right person had handled it, it would have been handled different,” Sale said. “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 in the clubhouse. If something 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’s taken heat for us that he doesn’t deserve. We trust him.”
LaRoche abruptly retired this week after the Sox had asked him to dial back the amount of time 14-year-old Drake spent with the White Sox.
“The wrong guys walked out of that room,” Sale said of the LaRoches, indicating Williams should have been the one to walk.
LaRoche and White Sox officials are expected to discuss the situation today as the saga has grabbed the nation’s attention.
“It wasn’t the right thing,” Sale said. “There was no problem. We were rolling. We had a team coming together of new guys getting acquainted. We’re a steam engine going ahead and he kind of derailed it. There was absolutely no problem in here and he kind of created a problem.
“We’re still missing a teammate plain and simple. There was no issue before and we’re still trying to find out what the truth is.
Asked what the bigger problem is, Sale said: “Lying. We got bald-faced lied to by someone we were supposed to trust.
Chris Sale said players want to hear from #whitesox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) March 18, 2016
“If we’re all here to win a championship this kind of stuff doesn’t happen. We’re not rebelling against the rule. It’s a much deeper issue. All this negative attention around so much positivity. We were rolling, you guys see it, the drills were crisp and everything was clicking. It just took someone to come in here and throw a wrench into the plans.”
Williams issued a statement this afternoon, saying: “While I disagree with Chris’ assertions today, I certainly have always appreciated his passion.”
Sale was asked if this affects his feelings on being with the White Sox.
“I still have a lot of time left in this uniform,” he said. “I’m still going to fight till my last breath for this team and my teammates. But on the flip side, I have to fight for our rights, too, for what is right, what is wrong, what is truth and what is false.”
Veteran third baseman Todd Frazier, who came to the White Sox in the offseason from the Reds, had a locker next to the LaRoches’ two lockers.
“It’s a sticky situation,” Frazier said. “I’m a family guy. Family comes first. I don’t know everything that goes on. We know the gist. We had a conversation. We talked to Kenny — that’s basically as far as I’ll go talking about that. Most of the guys in here with kids it’s tough, you want your kid to be involved. I sure as heck would like mine involved, too. It’s his choice and I stick up for him and it’s a tough one. I don’t know everything that went on but we have his back.
“It’s tough. It’s your guy, it’s family,” Frazier said.”Even though I just got over here he’s one of those guys you look up to and what he has to say. His word is bond. He’s been here long enough. I love this kid. His kid was great, great guy, he didn’t cause any problems for me. We’re going to miss him. He was a good locker mate.”
The question remains why this was handled now, instead of before camp.
“Yeah, it’s different. It is, maybe they could have talked about it in the offseason,” Frazier said. “I see what they’re saying but at the same time if he was promised that or if it was in the contract — I don’t even know exactly what it was so it’s tough to talk about.
“I’m a big loyalty guy, a big promise guy. Especially from that New Jersey thing, if you’re going to promise somebody something you have to go through with it, whatever that is, or to the extent to whatever it was. Walking away from teammates, I don’t really look at it like that. I look at it like it’s my family, family comes before everything. First and foremost and all the other stuff it doesn’t take precedence.”
Does this episode change Frazier’s desire to have a long-term relationship with the White Sox?
“No. Not at all,” he said. “We came together. It shows what we have as a team coming together, talking about things. Everybody really like chipped in, talked about it like, ‘Hey let’s go now. Let’s figure something out for him and the team as well.’ Bottom line is we’re going to miss Adam. But we have another game coming up. It’s crazy to think he’s not here right now. It’s weird.”
Veteran reliever David Robertson says he mostly kept quiet during the Tuesday clubhouse meeting.
“It was definitely one of the most interesting meetings I’ve ever been in,” Robertson said. “It was entertaining. Very spirited.”
Former White Sox pitcher Matt Thornton, now in the Padres’ camp, weighed in on the subject to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“Every organization sets a policy. I think it’s something the players should do. I don’t think it should be coming from a front office,” said Thornton, who played alongside LaRoche in 2014 with Washington and spent parts of eight seasons with the White Sox. “It’s the players’ clubhouse. It’s their choice to do what they want to do, and I think it’s got to be a 100 percent player vote, too.
“But you have to have honesty there, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable saying you don’t want kids in the clubhouse, obviously. I guess it’s going to be a touchy subject for teams now, with this coming up, and teams are trying to nip it in the bud and not let it be a distraction for them, as it’s become for the White Sox.”
Asked if he was surprised by LaRoche’s decision to retire, Thornton said: “If there’s one thing that would take Adam away from baseball, it would be his family. He’s 100 percent dedicated to his family, more than anything in his life, I believe. It doesn’t surprise me at all.”