(CBS) Adam Eaton did the best he could Saturday in attempting to explain what the voids of Adam and Drake LaRoche mean to the White Sox.
Now that Drake, the 14-year-old son of LaRoche, won’t be a part of the clubhouse environment following his father’s sudden retirement this week, Eaton spoke out in defense. Joining Inside The Clubhouse on Saturday with Bruce Levine and Mark Grote, Eaton explained why he felt Drake was tremendous.
“Drake was more than just a kid that came to the clubhouse,” Eaton said. “He did more for people than we did for him by having him there every day. It’s a difficult dynamic to understand, and that’s why there’s such a strong outreach for us.
“We lost a leader in Drake, which is crazy enough that a 14-year-old could be looked at like that, but the kid was so tremendous.”
Losing the LaRoches is something that created a contentious atmosphere in the White Sox clubhouse this week at spring training. When executive vice president Kenny Williams asked that LaRoche minimize his son’s presence from its prior stature of nearly every day, LaRoche responded with his retirement.
Teammates like Eaton will miss the presence of both LaRoches. When Eaton found himself mired in an early season slump last year, he turned to Adam, something for which he remains truly grateful.
“I don’t know who to turn to, who to talk to,” Eaton said. “I don’t know which way is up, which way is down, I just know I’m getting thrown in the fire for another 0-for. I don’t know where to go … I went to that man, and that man called me down. He said, ‘You know what? Here’s how we handle this, here’s how we get through it.’ He did this on more than one occasion with more than one person.
“That’s the person we needed in the clubhouse this year.”
The LaRoche saga took a turn on Friday when White Sox ace Chris Sale lashed out at Williams for his handling of the situation. Sale said that the team received “bald-faced lies” and that the wrong man walked out of the clubhouse, referring to Williams.
Eaton declined to continue on from Sale’s words, expressing his support and respect behind the pitcher. Now, the White Sox are looking toward baseball and only baseball as team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf works through the LaRoche situation.
For Eaton, the focus now is on his spring training debut in the outfield and attempting to face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on Saturday.
“We’re going to turn the page,” Eaton said. “We’re looking forward to today. Sale’s on the mound, we’re facing Kershaw. It’s going to be one heck of an event.”