GLENDALE, Ariz. — Adam LaRoche surprised the Chicago White Sox by telling them Tuesday he intends to retire, leaving $13 million on the table.
General manager Rick Hahn said that LaRoche told his teammates in a clubhouse meeting Tuesday morning and was asked to reconsider his decision, which Hahn characterized as a "personal decision."
Hahn said he was not expecting the news, but added that after "extensive conversations with him, between us and his coaches and he and his teammates, you would have to be respectful and understand his perspective."
Article continues below ...
LaRoche, 36, 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. The first baseman-turned-designated hitter hadn’t played since early this month due to back spasms.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he tried to talk LaRoche out of it.
"He made his mind up and I respect him for that," said Ventura, who noted that he’d talked to LaRoche on Monday night, but didn’t know LaRoche was going to tell the team Tuesday.
As for the reaction by LaRoche’s teammates, Ventura said that the team wants it "to be more about LaRoche than anything else."
"They respect this guy a lot. He gets the respect so when he says it, it takes a while for it to sink in for guys," Ventura said.
Newly minted White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier had his locker next to LaRoche’s this spring and said he’s going to miss him.
"I didn’t hear anything about it, came in today, said he was retiring, that was about it," Frazier said.
Hahn didn’t sound as though he expects LaRoche to have a change of heart, saying he was "very certain as to the course of action he wanted to take." But, Hahn added, "given the outpouring he heard from his teammates as well as those of us around the office, there’s certainly the potential that maybe he does change his mind."
LaRoche also had played for the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox. Over his career, he had a .260 batting average and 255 home runs. In 2010 and 2012, LaRoche drove in 100 runs, and hit a career high 33 homers in 2012.
Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins was well acquainted with LaRoche, having played against him for many years when Rollins was with the Phillies and LaRoche with their rival NL East teams.
"Every time I’d get on first base he’d say, `We need to play together,’" Rollins said. "I was looking forward to it. … I’ve enjoyed playing against him all these years in the NL East. I didn’t like to see those (homers) he was hitting off of us, he’s just one of those guys that you watched because everything was so effortless."
Rollins seemed to understand LaRoche’s decision, however: "Once a guy makes his mind up, it’s made up. If you can get to him before that point, your job is just to listen. And he’s been around for a while, obviously battling some injuries, and all those things weigh in."
LaRoche and his brother Andy, a minor leaguer, followed in the footsteps of their father, Dave, who was a pitcher.
On Tuesday afternoon, LaRoche tweeted: "Thank U Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved! (hash)familyfirst."
Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved!#FamilyFirst