GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Major League Baseball Players Association will continue to monitor the Adam LaRoche case, its boss said Wednesday, while not ruling out a grievance.
Executive director Tony Clark met with the White Sox at Camelback Ranch as part of his annual rounds, and said afterward that he couldn’t speak about a grievance — whether one was filed, or would be in the future.
LaRoche retired last week after claiming, in a statement, that executive vice president Kenny Williams told him to “significantly scale back,” and then eliminate altogether, his 14-year-old son Drake’s presence in the White Sox clubhouse.
Clark said teams will continue to have their own policies regarding children in the clubhouse.
“You appreciate that there are on-field rules related to kids and ages,” Clark said. “You also appreciate that any individual club has flexibility within their walls should it not become a broader part of the discussion that teams can function in accordance with the arrangement they may have there.
“So, you know there’s some flexibility. You know, clubhouse to clubhouse, there are differences in how one individual clubhouse functions versus another one, but having that flexibility is something that’s been there for a long time.
“We’ll assume, at least at this point, that will continue.”
Friday, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued a statement saying that his players and staff would no longer comment publicly about the issue.
Outfielder Adam Eaton, the White Sox union representative, obeyed Wednesday, refusing to comment on the MLBPA reaction Wednesday.
The union’s involvement doesn’t change just because LaRoche is now retired, Clark said. Asked whether LaRoche’s claim of a verbal agreement affects the union’s point of view, Clark said that, after conversations with management and players, he has a “pretty good idea as to what was discussed” in regards to Drake.
“Whether there is anything that happens as a result of what arrangement was in place,” Clark said, “remains to be seen.”
The White Sox were the 29th of 30 teams that Clark, a former 15-year big leaguer, met with this spring. He flew to Arizona after spending Tuesday in Havana with a Major League Baseball contingent to watch the Rays’ exhibition against the Cuban national team.
Clark spoke with White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu about the trip; the two visited Cuba together in December.
“Jose is as good as they get,” he said.
Much of Wednesday’s meeting dealt with issues the union will address during this year’s collective bargaining session: revenue sharing, the competitive balance tax, the domestic draft and international entry.
The White Sox spoke about the league’s qualifying offer system, in which the threat of giving up a first-round pick has dissuaded some teams from signing protected free agents.
“Yes, it is affecting players,” Clark said. “Based on the conversations I’ve had, I would say it’s affecting clubs as well, but I think it’s also part of a broader conversation with other issues tied to how they system in general works.”
He admitted that service time has been a topic of debate lately — most recently, Kris Bryant starting last season in the minors so the Cubs could gain an extra year of team control — and hinted Clark’s own playing career was subject to such manipulation.
“I’d like to think both sides of the conversation appreciate that there’s value in actually not having it be part of the conversation,” Clark said. “Where both sides know or at least has an understanding of the best team being on the field at any given time.
“Whenever the commentary switches and you start talking about service time and why a particular player is not here, it’s not beneficial to anybody.
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