By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — The Adam LaRoche debacle has been discussed everywhere in baseball since the 36-year-old veteran informed the White Sox on Tuesday of his plan to retire, a decision prompted by executive vice president Kenny Williams asking him to reduce the time that his 14-year-old son, Drake, spends around the team.READ MORE: Chicago Sky Win First WNBA Championship As They Top Phoenix Mercury
A team leader on the White Sox’s crosstown rival, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo wasn’t shy about expressing his opinion on the subject. He didn’t think any of this drama would be taking place if LaRoche hadn’t had a poor 2015, when he hit just .207 with 12 homers and 44 RBIs in 127 games.
“For (Drake) to be allowed in the (clubhouse) and then can’t be, that is bizarre,” Rizzo said. “Personally, I don’t think it would have been an issue if he had driven in 125, as he normally does. Adam is a class-act guy. Whenever we go play them, he always has a ‘wounded warrior’ out there with him. He is heavily involved in things like that.”
The story out of White Sox camp has drawn opinion from many quarters about kids in the clubhouse and who’s right and wrong in this multi-layered debate.
“I don’t know where he is on this totally,” Rizzo said of LaRoche’s departure from White Sox camp. “I know he doesn’t play this game for the money. That is for sure. The whole thing is a tough situation.”
The Cubs are prone to having some kids in the house on game days, notably first-base coach Brandon Hyde’s son for most of the season.
“This is a soft spot for me,” Rizzo said. “These kids don’t even know how amazing it is for them right now. They are so used to it. I know Drake, he understands it. I know he is more appreciative of it. Just to see (David Ross’) kid in here the last few days, the smile on his face, David being able to look up at his son. That is one of my dreams in life. I want to have a son or daughter to look up to me like that. To see that here is a real soft spot for me.”READ MORE: Jubilant And Inspired Fans, Booming Businesses Near Wintrust Arena As Chicago Sky Win WNBA Championship
The Cubs love having Hyde’s son, Colton, around and as a good-luck vibe.
“We even asked (Hyde) to take him out of school,” Rizzo said. “We were kind of mad when he wasn’t around. We would get on (Hyde) about that, because (Colton) was part of it. He was part of the team. If there is a policy in place, you understand and respect it. For it to come out of the blue, I can’t grasp that.”
The LaRoche story has become media fodder and blown up to epic proportions.
“From my understanding is he had an agreement last year when he signed, that it was OK to bring his son around,” Rizzo said. “If it wasn’t a distraction, I don’t understand it. This is my opinion. I don’t usually like to speak out on a lot of maters, but family comes first no matter what.”
Ross has had his son in camp for a week.
“I feel bad for both sides,” Ross said of White Sox officials and LaRoche, whom he played with in Atlanta. “It is great to bring your kids to work. I cherish having my son here the last two days. I don’t take that for granted. This is a game but also a workplace. I see where both sides are coming from. To be honest with you, my family is way more important than my job. Sometimes you have to make a decisions about your core values. Adam made his decisions on what his core values are — more power to him. The White Sox are running a business. It is a business and a workplace. They make the rules.”MORE NEWS: Amid Continuing Water Pressure Woes In Dixmoor, Residents Aren't Confident The Next Fix Will Be The Last
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.