Red Sox Travis Shaw Weighs In On Adam LaRoche Issue

Mar 17, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw (47) fields a ground ball during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park. The Boston Red Sox won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw (47) fields a ground ball during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at JetBlue Park. The Boston Red Sox won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox rising star Travis Shaw knows how Adam LaRoche‘s son must feel about his father wanting him to be in the clubhouse. The issue hits Shaw deep.

Scott Lauber of ESPN wrote about Shaw’s own experience, having “fond memories of his dad’s days with the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. Shaw can’t say for certain that he wouldn’t have gotten interested in baseball if he hadn’t been able to tag along, but he’s sure his bond with his father became closer because they were able to be together.”

Last Wednesday, Adam LaRoche made the decision to retire from the game he loved, forfeiting his guaranteed $13 million for this season, because the White Sox execs had decided to limit his 14-year-old son’s amount of time that he spent in the clubhouse by 50 percent. Lauber reported that “team president Ken Williams defended the policy by pointing out that most workplaces aren’t accepting of employees’ bringing their kids to work.”

Shaw’s response: “It definitely meant a lot to him that we could spend that time together […] My brother was 2 years old when he retired, and my dad always told me that he feels bad that he didn’t get to experience what I got to experience. It’s a family game.”

Lauber also noted that, even though the Red Sox had tightened up their own rules about children in the clubhouse in recent years, “since Dave Dombrowski took over as the team’s president of baseball operations in August, his 16-year-old son, Landon, has spent considerable time around the clubhouse. Landon has even taken batting practice on a back field at the Red Sox’s spring training complex the first few weeks of camp.”

It’s important to remember that it’s not like LaRoche’s son was too young to keep himself out of trouble. It was widely reported that his son cleaned the players’ cleats, shagged balls, and did a ton of jobs that the team considered useful. The players didn’t think that he was a distraction; they thought that the young lad had earned his place in the clubhouse, let alone inspiring his father to play the game.

It’s one thing to say that you want your players to concentrate on the game, but not at the expense of what they are working hard to achieve. Some players perform at the MLB level to make MLB money. Some players execute each play properly because of their love of the game. However, for many of the players, they play to make their money and express their love of the game for their children. They want their sons and daughters to see how much they respected the game enough to play at the highest levels and make enough money for them to achieve their own dreams, whether to become baseball players or any other profession.

To take that away from the players, in itself, is a distraction. Take LaRoche’s son out of the clubhouse could make him think more about his family and less on his swing. One could argue that that notion means LaRoche has no business playing if he isn’t putting his focus on his job. Very possible. It’s also possible that his son was helping him keep his focus on the game itself, inspiring him to play better if things got tough out there.

Shaw made those LaRoche-supportive statements, while not even having children of his own. He remembered what values were taught to him just by being in the clubhouse with his father, and look where it got him. Now, Shaw is verging on a possible starting position with one of the most historic franchises in all of baseball. Shaw learned to have a work ethic and respect for others by being in that clubhouse. What grown man, with or without children, would get upset with a child trying to develop his values through such a manner, if the child was well-behaved?

While Williams is not necessarily out of line to try to get the most out of his players, it would probably make more sense to LaRoche and the rest of the White Sox players had LaRoche’s son been a distraction. From all accounts, it seems that he was more like free labor than anything else. The White Sox should be so lucky to have volunteers like the young boy, instead of paying someone to do these jobs or adding to the players’ workloads. In future, Williams should maybe focus his attention more on fixing other parts of his team, instead of worrying about their focus with their children. If the process isn’t broke, why contribute it to the main issue of winning baseball games?