Chicago White Sox slugger Adam LaRoche walked away from a contract that would have paid him $13 million this season because team president Ken Williams told LaRoche that he had to limit the time his 14-year-old son, Drake, spent with the team, Fox Sports first reported.
LaRoche, 36, announced his retirement Tuesday, hinting at the reason behind his decision with the hashtag #familyfirst in a tweet posted that day.
Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved!#FamilyFirst
— Adam LaRoche (@e3laroche) March 15, 2016
When news of the reason became public Wednesday, Williams addressed the issue with reporters and said that kids are still permitted in the White Sox clubhouse, but they shouldn't be there every day, saying no job would allow that.
"Sometimes you have to make decisions in this world that are unpopular," he said.
The White Sox have always encouraged players to bring their kids into the clubhouse and onto the field, according to Williams. But he said he thought Drake LaRoche was there too much.
Williams said he first talked to LaRoche about cutting back on Drake's time in the clubhouse a week ago, then again Sunday.
"There has been no policy change with regards to allowance of kids in the clubhouse, on the field, the back fields during spring training," Williams told Fox Sports. "This young man that we're talking about, Drake -- everyone loves this young man. In no way do I want this to be about him.
"I asked Adam, said, 'Listen, our focus, our interest, our desire this year is to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity to focus on a daily basis on getting better. All I'm asking you to do with regard to bringing your kid to the ballpark is dial it back.'
"I don't think he should be here 100 percent of the time. And he has been here 100 percent, every day, in the clubhouse. I said that I don't even think he should be here 50 percent of the time. Figure it out, somewhere in between.
"We all think his kid is a great young man. I just felt it should not be every day, that's all. You tell me, where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?"
LaRoche, a first baseman-turned-designated hitter, signed a two-year deal for $25 million with the White Sox a year ago. But he struggled in 2015, batting just .207 with 12 homers. He hadn't played since early this month because of back spasms.
In a 2013 story in The Washington Post, LaRoche talked about having Drake with him all the time.
"It's like having your son and your best friend alongside you all day long, at work, which never gets to happen," LaRoche said. "I don't know many jobs where you can bring your kid and not have to put him in daycare somewhere. It's been awesome."
A Chicago Tribune story last season on Drake called him the team's 26th man.
Adam LaRoche's father, Dave, pitched in the majors until LaRoche was 4 years old and then was a coach. LaRoche's brother, Andy, also played in the majors.
All over baseball, big leaguers have often been joined by their sons in the clubhouse and on the field for pregame practice. Ken Griffey Jr., Cal Ripken Jr. and Prince Fielder are among the many stars who were brought to the ballpark by their ballplayer fathers.
Different teams have had different rules. Some clubs allowed kids in the clubhouse after Sunday games, provided they won.
"On our side of things, I think everyone would say we enjoyed Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse and everything he brought to the clubhouse," White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said. "He helped out around and wasn't a burden by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn't a big problem last year, either.
"Adam and Drake are probably the most respected people in baseball I ever played with. Drake would clean cleats, he would help out in drills, pick up baseballs when we needed. He didn't say boo to anybody and was never a trouble in the clubhouse."
Said Williams: "I want to be very clear on something. It's not because the young man was a distraction, not because he wasn't well-received or well-liked by players, management and everyone else.
"He's a quality, quality young kid that one day might be a heck of a player one day. Anyway, one of the things we said coming into this season is, 'Let's check all the columns' with regards to our preparation, our focus to give us every chance to win."
The White Sox, who haven't made the playoffs since 2008, made several moves in the offseason in the hope of greatly improving their 76-86 record from last year. There is no telling for sure whether LaRoche will be part of that effort.
"He seemed pretty convicted in his decision," Williams said. "He didn't come back to talk to me about it before he made the decision. I thought there was enough flexibility built in."
According to MLB.com, LaRoche has indeed filled out his retirement paperwork, but the White Sox, in allowing him time to reconsider, have not yet submitted it to Major League Baseball's central office.
Good for you Roche! Nothing like father and son in the clubhouse..It's a FAMILY game #FamilyFirst
— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) March 16, 2016
— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) March 16, 2016
If you and your boy ever want to come hang out with the @ChicagoBears let me know. I grew up in locker rooms.
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) March 16, 2016
The Associated Press contributed to this report.