To be sure, Adam LaRoche isn’t the only one dragging down the White Sox offense – there are about nine culprits in the lineup almost every day – but he’s right there in the middle of it.
Signed to a two-year, $25 million free agent deal to bat cleanup and protect third-place hitter Jose Abreu, LaRoche went into Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals batting .221 with nine homers and 33 RBI. He hit 26 homers and drove in 92 runs for the Washington Nationals last season, a fairly typical season for the 35-year-old veteran.
“You keep swinging and you keep working,’’ LaRoche said Wednesday. “There’s only so much video you can watch, only so many things you can go back and look at that you think might have been different in the past. The fact is you just have to get in the box and be confident, expect good things to happen.”
Not much has happened all season and especially of late. In July, LaRoche had no homers two RBI and a .208 on-base percentage before Wednesday.
“I’m sure I’ve said ‘this is baffling, the worst it’s ever been,’ ’’ LaRoche said. “But yeah it’s confusing, frustrating, and you think you’ve figured it out for an at-bat or two and then it’s gone. In the past I’ve been able to figure it out and then hold onto it for a while. You just keep going and keep pushing.’’
If the Sox are shopping their designated hitter/first baseman as the trade deadline approaches, general manager Rick Hahn is probably underlining the Gold Glove on LaRoche’s resume and his August and September career numbers: .288 average in each month (27 points higher than any other), 52 homers in August and 48 homers in September (nine more than any other).
LaRoche, 35, is as chill and calm as any, and the last thing he seems concerned about is the July 31 trade deadline. He wasn’t even sure of the exact date.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but typically I don’t hear about trade possibilities until the day it happens,’’ said LaRoche, who has been traded three times in his career. “I don’t look into that stuff and I stay out of it. For me it’s not an issue, but I can’t speak for everybody.’’
Tyler Saladino hit safely in seven of his first eight career games, the first White Sox to do so since Frank Thomas in 1990. He was trying to become the first to hit in eight of his first nine since Leo Sutherland in 1980.
Coaches and teammates alike have been impressed by Saladino’s baseball IQ and – so far – smooth transition from the minor leagues.
“I felt like I was playing baseball on the moon when I first got called up to the big leagues, but he’s taking everything in stride,’’ Adam Eaton said. “He’s been very professional here in the clubhouse as well as out there. And you couldn’t have asked for a better start from a guy in his career. It’s been impressive.’’
Saladino was hitting .393 with two homers, a triple and four RBI during his streak.
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