By Bruce Levine —

GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — Last season wasn’t a good year for first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche or the Chicago White Sox, as both disappointed. Now, the 36-year-old, 12-year veteran LaRoche is being counted on to return to form after a disastrous 2015.

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LaRoche signed a two-year, $25-million contract with Chicago in the fall of 2014. The theory was that he would platoon between the roles of DH and first base, sharing the work load of each position with slugger Jose Abreu. As the season progressed, LaRoche was much more DH than first baseman. The new role is an acquired taste for players used to playing both ways.

“I don’t look for excuses for my play,” LaRoche said. “I was unsuccessful at it last year. I thought it was going to be a little easier than it was. Now the challenge is even greater. I want to be successful at it even more.”

LaRoche hit a career-low .207 last season, and his .634 OPS was even more troubling for a guy who has a career .798 OPS. He had just 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 127 games.

“I need to prove to myself I can be a good DH and learn that side of the game,” he said. “I am really looking forward to it.”

The numbers alone were not the only puzzling aspect for LaRoche last season. At times he looked like a guy whose career was over. A slow bat and lack of anything close to clutch hitting took its toll internally on the usually confident player.

“I have talked to enough people that it appears to be different as to what works for everybody,” he said. “Most of the guys said this and that worked for them. Basically, it’s really something you will have to figure out on your own. I am still experimenting with that and hope to find something that clicks soon.”

Faith in God and a higher purpose motivate LaRoche to meet these types of challenges and stand tall in the face of failure for himself, family and teammates. As to how much longer he will want to wear the uniform is up in the air.

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“I do not know how much longer I will play,” LaRoche said. “I will play it by ear right now. I will see how this year goes, see how the body feels. We will make a family decision.”

The White Sox really don’t have a plan B if the results don’t improve for LaRoche. General manager Rick Hahn has been working night and day for months to acquire a left-handed bat with RBI potential, but there’s nothing to show for that yet. The White Sox made a great offer to Alex Gordon, who returned to the Royals on a four-year contract. Offers to Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler also misfired, as both returned to their previous clubs.

So there’s a burden on LaRoche.

“There were times that were fun last year and many that were not,” LaRoche said. “That is something again that needs to change. I want to really look forward to coming out to the ballpark every day. To be honest,there were times when I wanted to turn in the uniform that night and take it to the house. I have to be honest about that. Hopefully this year will be different.”

Teammates like Adam Eaton said they were inspired by the way LaRoche handled adversity.

“No matter what he did on the field, (LaRoche) was even-keeled in his behavior and leadership role,” Eaton said. “To me, that is being the ultimate leader and someone to admire.”

Added LaRoche: “There is a different motive for me than personal baseball impact. I want to be a positive person and friend for my teammates. If I can be there for a person and help him with issues he has, that is a purpose for me. Being supportive for them is probably my biggest reason to continue to play. I will not continue to play for the money or career numbers. It will be about the path (and faith) I have been given.”

If that path for LaRoche includes his career numbers of .250 batting average/25 homers/85 RBIs, White Sox fans and the management group will be satisfied.

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Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.