Robin Ventura: Guys Kept Their Focus Despite LaRoche Drama

Remember when the Chicago White Sox dominated the spring-training headlines for all that Adam LaRoche drama? Many analysts wondered if that saga would divide the team and affect their play on the field.

Well, it hasn’t – at least not in a negative way. The White Sox (19-9) have the best record in the American League.

“We knew it was a big story outside of our little facility and clubhouse,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show, referring to the LaRoche drama. “But inside is really were you need to do all the work and deal with the people that are in there – and I thought they handled it great. You’re able to put that in one little box and deal with it, but then you’re also able to still come back out and get your work done. It was spring training, so you’re still going out and practicing and going out to have a game. I thought they kept their focus with what was there. It was important to them because he was a good teammate and a well-respected guy inside the clubhouse, but they were able to kind of separate that and still get their work done and concentrate on playing games.”

Todd Frazier, Jimmy Rollins and Brett Lawrie have been valuable additions to the club, while Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu continue to play at a high level. Unfortunately, the White Sox have flown under the radar – even in their own city.

The Cubs are an MLB-best 20-6.

“They’re going to do what they do,” Ventura said, “but we’re always going to be an underdog, so to speak. We can embrace that and play within our division. We only play the (Cubs) four times, so it’s not like you’re having to deal with them head-to-head all that much. So really, that focus for our guys isn’t there. When we play them it’ll probably be different, but the AL is a tough league. You try to check out somebody else when you’re playing the Red Sox or Baltimore or Texas, you’re going to get your head pounded in. You have to be focused on what you’re doing.”

Ventura was also asked about MLB’s steroid policy, specifically the notion that many players feel an 80-game ban for a first-time offense is not stuff enough. After all, if steroids help a player go from a few million dollars a year to tens of millions of dollars a year, why not cheat and hope for the best? Even if you get caught, you’re still better off than you would have been with a middling contract.

“You’re always going to have to negotiate that punishment, but from where it was when I played to where it is now is a lot better,” Ventura said. “They’re starting to catch guys. They’ve tried to improve it. There are always going be guys that try to find a way around it. That part you can’t stop. The guys are human, just like anything else, and trying to find an advantage. You want to be able to stop that and you want the testing to be as good as possible. That’s where you start and baseball’s been trying to do that. . . . I think each case is a littler bit unique and you got to be able to find them. I think the punishment is probably going to get more severe as we go along as the testing gets better.”

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