Sons of baseball players hanging out in team clubhouses is nothing new, nor should it be such an issue that Adam LaRoche walks away from $13 million.
But that’s what happened this week when Chicago White Sox Executive Vice President Ken Williams asked LaRoche, “Please dial it back on having your kid in the clubhouse.” In response, LaRoche retired, leaving $13 million in salary behind him.
LaRoche’s 13-year-old son, Drake, was a daily occupant of the Sox clubhouse, had his own locker, had his own uniform. And the other players say they were comfortable with it.
SO WHAT IS the big problem?
Back in the days of The Big Red Machine, sons of players were a constant in the clubhouse — Pete Rose Jr., Ken Griffey Jr, Pedro Borbon Jr., Eduardo and Victor Perez, Ed Sprague Jr.
And when the Reds were in Philadelphia and Bob Boone was the Phillies catcher, Bret and Aaron Boone were always in the clubhouse. When Dusty Baker managed the Reds, his young son, Darren, was often a clubhouse inhabitant and wore his own uniform.
Manager Sparky Anderson did have some rules. The kids were allowed in the clubhouse before games and they were allowed in the clubhouse after games if the Reds won. If they lost the kids were not allowed in.
BUT THAT DIDN’T stop them from hanging around. If the team lost they gathered outside the clubhouse in the tunnel under Riverfront Stadium. There was a batting cage there and the kids often were pitching to each other.
“We’d be in the clubhouse during games, too,” said Griffey Jr. “We used to sneak into Sparky’s office and steal his red pop.”
The young Rose, as boisterous in his youth as he father was at all times, was outside the clubhouse one day uttering some blue words.
Former Cincinnati Post baseball writer Earl Lawson asked him, “What are you doing?” Said Rose Jr., “We’re practicing our swearing?”
“Where did you learn it?” asked Lawson. “From my dad,” Petey said proudly. Lawson laughed and said, “Probably from your mother, too.” Petey’s mother, Karolyn, was known to have a salty vocabulary, too.
HEY, IS IT AN accident that Rose, Griffey, Borbon, Eduardo Perez and both Boone kids all made it to the major leagues?
THE PITCHING SITUATON with the Reds this spring reminds one of the old singing group, Dire Straits, and it has nothing to do with one of their songs, “The Sultan of Swing.”
It involved the fast-shrinking number of available arms from a well-populated staff. Homer Bailey won’t be available to mid-May. John Lamb won’t be ready on Opening Day. Michael Lorenzen won’t be available on Opening Day. Raisel Iglesias is behind due to a weak shoulder.
And while Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed have been impressive this spring, Stephenson has only a half-season of Triple-A experience and Reed has only a half season of Double-A experience. Stephenson was assigned to Triple-A Louisville Friday and outfielder Jesse Winker was re-assigned to minor league camp.
So the Reds signed Alfredo Simon, a free agent who was unsigned during the winter and sitting home in the Dominican Republic. Simon, though, says he kept in shape by throwing to hitters.
Simon, 34, spent three seasons with the Reds, mostly in the bullpen, before he was traded to Detroit for Eugenio Suarez. Simon was plucked from the bullpen in an emergency situation in 2014 and was 15-10 and an All-Star.
But he struggled with the Tigers last year — 13-12 with a 5.05 earned run average over 31 starts. He returns to the Reds with a one-year $2 million contract.
PROJECTED OPENING DAY starter Anthony DeSclafani faced the Milwaukee Brewers in a game that figures to be a precursor as to who will finish fourth and who will finish fifth in the National League Central this year. Yorman Rodriguez delivered a two-run double in the eighth inning to give the Reds a 7-6 victory.
The Reds scored three runs in the first inning, two on Adam Duvall’s home run. He was 3-for-3 and leads the Reds this spring with nine RBI.
DeSclafani then gave up three straight hits to open the bottom of the first, including a run-scoring double to Ryan Braun.
Then Desclafani settled in, although he gave up a leadoff home run in the fourth to Chris Carter. For the game Descalafani pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs and six while walking one and striking out seven.
ON A POSITIVE note, catcher Devin Mesoraco made his spring debut Thursday and hit a home run on his first at bat. He caught two innings before departing.