After nearly a week of controversy surrounding the sudden resignation of Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf spoke out Sunday on the issue that has captivated and enraged fans on either side of the issue.
Reinsdorf had previously declined to comment on the situation, saying it would be "premature," as conversations were ongoing. But on Sunday, he released a statement, saying he had "taken the past few days to personally meet with everyone involved, including Adam LaRoche, members of our front office, uniformed staff and some of our active players."
"I continue to have nothing but the greatest regard for Adam – in fact, my respect for him has grown during this process -- and I applaud his desire to spend more time with his family," the statement reads.
Reinsdorf also lauds White Sox VP Kenny Williams, who LaRoche named as the person with whom he had a "fundamental disagreement" over his son's presence in the clubhouse.
"I continue to have complete faith in the skills and abilities of the leadership group of our baseball operations department in Ken Williams, Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura," Reinsdorf said.
"As with many things in life, much of this was a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding rather than this being a case of anyone not telling the truth," he continued. "I do not believe there is anyone to directly blame in this situation. While there is no doubt this might have been handled differently, the fact remains that this is an internal matter that we have discussed and now resolved."
Reinsdorf also said that White Sox employees will no longer discuss the matter at his request. This statement came two days after LaRoche addressed the controversy publicly for the first time since announcing his retirement on Tuesday, saying he felt it was "necessary to provide my perspective."
"Though I clearly indicated to both teams the importance of having my son with me, I also made clear that if there was ever a moment when a teammate, coach or manager was made to feel uncomfortable, then I would immediately address it," he said in a statement on Twitter Friday. "I realize that this is their office and their career, and it would not be fair to the team if anybody in the clubhouse was unhappy with the situation. Fortunately, that problem never developed."
LaRoche continued to say there were no problems with him or his son during the 2015 season but contradicted statements made by White Sox VP Kenny Williams on the current season.
"With all of this in mind, we move toward the current situation which arose after White Sox VP Ken Williams recently advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse. Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all," LaRoche said. "Obviously, I expressed my displeasure toward this decision to alter the agreement we had reached before I signed with the White Sox. Upon doing so, I had to make a decision. Do I choose my teammates and my career? Or do I choose my family? The decision was easy, but in no way was it a reflection of how I feel about my teammates, manager, general manager or the club’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf."
The controversy began earlier this week when LaRoche announced that he intended to retire for personal reasons. Over the intervening days, it was revealed that the reason for LaRoche’s decision was that the team, specifically Williams, had asked him to dial back the amount of time the first baseman’s 14-year-old son Drake spent in the clubhouse during the season.
"[Drake is] very welcome just as all our players kids are and always have been, really," Williams told NBC Chicago's Peggy Kusinski Wednesday. "I mean our policy is not changing. The thing I asked for in this particular situation was for it to be not an everyday thing and to dial it back."
Players reportedly were furious with the team’s decision and the process behind it, and star pitcher Chris Sale later went on an expletive-laden tirade against Williams in a closed-door meeting at the clubhouse.
“This isn’t us rebelling against rules," he told reporters in a scathing session Friday. "It’s us rebelling against BS. Plain and simple.”
Sale, standing in front of his locker that contained jerseys for both LaRoche and his son Drake, blasted Williams for his handling of the situation and alleged the players were lied to.
Williams declined to comment on whether any players had complained about Drake's presence, but said Drake is "loved by everyone around here" and applauded the players for standing behind LaRoche, who said he is certain he would regret not spending enough time with his son.
"I will leave you with the same advice that I left my teammates. In life, we’re all faced with difficult decisions and will have a choice to make," he said. "Do we act based on the consequences, or do we act on what we know and believe in our hearts to be right? I choose the latter."
Reinsdorf closed his statement Sunday on a positive note, saying "I am fully confident this matter will soon be behind us and that we will grow even stronger and more united as a team and as an organization."