Trust, more than child care, appears to be the central issue in Adam LaRoche-Chicago White Sox flap

Trust, more than child care, appears to be the central issue in Adam LaRoche-Chicago White Sox flap
hicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale stretches before he pitches against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game in Minneapolis onSept. 1, 2015. (Darren Calabrese / Canadian Press)

It was the story heard 'round the world. Who could resist the tale of the father who wanted nothing more than to bring his son to work every day, the boss who said no, and the co-workers who rebelled in support of their colleague?

Those themes are universal, so media outlets from as far away as Australia and New Zealand wanted in on the story. So did People magazine.


For the Chicago White Sox, this is not a parable about child care or male bonding. This is about whether the employees can trust the boss.

If you ask Chris Sale, that would be a big, fat no. Sale, the White Sox ace and a four-time All-Star, blasted executive vice president Ken Williams on Friday, saying Williams had lied to players in the debacle that led designated hitter Adam LaRoche to announce his abrupt retirement.

"Somebody walked out of these doors the other day, and it was the wrong guy, plain and simple," Sale said.

Williams has said he had asked LaRoche to limit the number of days he brought his 14-year-old son, Drake, into the clubhouse.

He has said the decision was his alone. However, it is difficult to imagine Williams — a veteran executive and former major leaguer — would suddenly resolve to confront LaRoche halfway through spring training without some prompting from a concerned party. After all, LaRoche had brought his son into the clubhouse last season, all season.

In the aftermath of a heated team meeting, Sale said, Williams told "three different stories" about the reasoning for keeping the teenager out.

"He came to the players and said it was the coaches," Sale said. "He went to the coaches and said it was the players. Then he came in here and told us it was the owners. We're not exactly sure where it came from."

Sale added: "We got bald-faced lied to by someone we're supposed to be able to trust."

A lovely spring morning deteriorated into a parade of prepared statements.

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

From LaRoche: "Ken Williams recently advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse. Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all."

From owner Jerry Reinsdorf: "We are in the process of holding a number of discussions with players, staff and the front office."

When he signed with the White Sox as a free agent before the 2015 season, LaRoche said he and the team agreed that his son could "be a part of the team" and said he was unaware of any concerns from a teammate, coach or manager.

LaRoche's locker was cleared out. Two LaRoche jerseys hung in front of Sale's locker, one black and one gray, with these inscriptions: "To Chris, thanks for everything, I'll never forget you, Drake LaRoche" and "To Chris, thanks for taking care of me, Drake LaRoche."

Four players who spoke with reporters Friday — Sale, Eaton, infielder Todd Frazier and pitcher David Robertson — all spoke highly of Drake LaRoche. Manager Robin Ventura joked that Drake LaRoche was "probably more mature than most of the guys in there."

"This isn't us rebelling against rules," Sale said. "This is us rebelling against B.S."

Sale said Williams had "derailed" a positive spring.

"If we're all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn't happen," Sale said.

Really, Williams never could have imagined this kind of stuff. Maybe LaRoche agrees to leave his son at home more often. Maybe he doesn't. A compromise certainly would have been in order.

But who would have thought the 36-year-old LaRoche would walk away from $13 million and trigger a clubhouse revolt?

"This was likely to be the last year of my career," LaRoche said, "and there's no way I was going to spend it without my son."

Twitter: @BillShaikin