Spring training a family affair for LaRoches

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adam LaRoche showed up at the Chicago White Sox's home clubhouse at Camelback Ranch in February to the ultimate tribute: The team gave him the corner locker stall that was inhabited for years by franchise mainstay and longtime team leader Paul Konerko.

The White Sox outdid themselves with a second, equally thoughtful gesture: They saved the adjoining locker for LaRoche's son, Drake, who accompanies him to spring training every year. Drake LaRoche, 13, arrived to find his very own nameplate and uniform hanging in the stall.

"It's a big thing," said Adam LaRoche, who is also accompanied by his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Montana, in Glendale. "I love having kids around. I knew they were comfortable with it here, but this just took it to the next level. It's pretty cool."

When the White Sox signed LaRoche to a two-year, $25 million contract in November, they were getting more than just a devoted family man. For starters, LaRoche has one of the coolest beards in baseball. "It kind of gets there before he does," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura.

La Roche also brings a proven track record on both sides of the ball. He's a smooth-fielding first baseman, and he has hit at least 20 homers in nine of the past 10 seasons. The only exception came in 2011, when he underwent shoulder surgery and appeared in only 43 games for the Washington Nationals.

The White Sox are up to their cap brims in LaRoches this spring. Andy, Adam's younger brother who was once a top prospect with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is trying to resurrect his career with Chicago on a minor league contract that includes an invitation to major league camp.

The LaRoche brothers played together with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009. Since then, Andy has played for the Oakland, Cleveland, Boston and Toronto organizations and failed to gain much traction in the majors. He's been bothered by recurring back problems.

The LaRoches are all living together in the Phoenix area during the Cactus League, and Adam, Andy and Drake commute to the ballpark in Glendale each morning and back home at night. When asked what chores Andy has assumed in the family abode this spring, Adam was stumped for an answer.

"He's just here for eye candy, I guess," Adam said. “I don't know what he does. He will baby-sit, though."

Adam might want to get that in writing before proclaiming it a fait accompli.

"When he tries to get me to do it, I tell him, 'I have plans,'" Andy said. "Then I make plans."