MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon will consult with his “lead bulls,” his veteran players, as he does every spring to establish team policies, including the presence of kids in the clubhouse, for the upcoming season.
The topic came up in light of Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam LaRoche’s decision to apparently walk away from the game when the organization told him his son’s presence in the clubhouse would have to be limited this year.
“It’s among the more experienced guys on the team to make sure it’s adhered to,” Maddon said of team rules. “It’s not about me to do that. It’s among the players.
“Once we leave that room, we’re all on the same page when it comes to policy.”
In terms of kids being in the clubhouse, Maddon is OK with it if the players are. He said it’s up to them to police their locker room. His players basically echoed that sentiment.
“I don’t think you need to draw the line, to be honest,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “If all 25 guys are bringing in their kids and it’s a zoo and a circus, then you get together as a group and police it.”
Rizzo, along with many teammates, said it’s a dream of his to one day bring his son to work. He acknowledged performance probably was a factor in the decision by the White Sox. LaRoche hit .207 last season.
“It wouldn’t be an issue if he drove in a hundred [runs] and hit 25 [home runs],” Rizzo said.
Veteran David Ross took issue with the White Sox allowing LaRoche’s son in the clubhouse last year but not this season.
“Success cures a lot of problems,” Ross said. “When things aren’t going well in just about every business, you start to nitpick where you can clean up areas.
“If I had a year under my belt with the organization and then my son wasn’t allowed in, I’d have a problem with it.”
Jake Arrieta had a similar take. “Having success cures a lot of that crap,” he said. “It doesn’t look good for anyone.”
Players also see the other side of the story and had empathy for White Sox brass -- “What the boss says, goes,” Ross said -- but ultimately believe it should have been settled inside the clubhouse not by the front office. Ross recalled the Boston Red Sox having a meeting when players felt there were too many kids shagging balls in the outfield during batting practice, while Rizzo reiterated that if it’s not a distraction, it shouldn’t be a problem.
“The joy that it brings to the clubhouse when kids are around is huge,” he said. “It’s a soft spot for me.”
Last season, first base coach Brandon Hyde brought his son around the team as much as anyone. Players got used to him and joked about keeping him out of school during a winning streak. But each team and situation is different, so the Cubs didn’t see any winners in the controversy.
“It stinks they couldn’t find a common ground,” Ross said. “My son learns a lot from these guys around here.”