John Locher
February 24, 2015

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Adam LaRoche grew up around old Comiskey Park, when his father Dave was the Chicago White Sox bullpen coach and Robin Ventura, Harold Baines and Bobby Thigpen were early in their playing careers.

A quarter-century later, LaRoche arrives on the South Side as the oldest player on the team at 35. Baines and Thigpen are on the coaching staff and Ventura is his manager.

The first baseman, who signed a two-year deal in the offseason to join the White Sox, is returning to his roots, and he reminisced about it Tuesday, the team's first full-squad workout.

''We were running around old Comiskey. I'm still running into a lot of people here that worked at the old park that remember my brothers and I as little kids,'' he said. ''Some of my best memories are getting to go to spring training with my dad, and be around the field all summer long, and get to know the guys, and obviously Robin was there and he was awesome.''

''I knew at a young age that this was what I wanted to do and never really viewed those guys as superhuman,'' LaRoche said.

Adam said his dad Dave LaRoche, a two-time All-Star reliever in a 14-year career that included two seasons with the rival Cubs, ''knows my swing better than anybody.'' Now Adam has his 13-year-old son Drake in camp.

''He's been coming to spring training for years,'' Adam said of Drake. ''For him to get some of the same memories that I have has been awesome.''

One of the reasons why the White Sox went after LaRoche, who had 26 homers and 92 RBIs on the NL East-winning Washington Nationals last year, was the quiet leadership he brings to the clubhouse.

''Adam's just going to be himself, and that's the best thing for us,'' Ventura said. ''He's honest. I know his dad, I know where he comes from. It's fun, I've known him a long time. It's easier to build that relationship - the trust and everything goes with it, it's pretty much already there.''

LaRoche is taking the leadership part of it slowly.

''That leadership role is interesting because I don't know you can walk in anywhere. That's something that's earned,'' he said. ''And it's no different here, regardless of how old you are.''

LaRoche will share first base and designated hitter duties with AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu. LaRoche was aware of Abreu's on-field accomplishments but is equally impressed with the Cuban's businesslike approach now that he's seen it in person.

''I don't know how this is going to play out with the DH and first base. Robin and I talked about it this morning,'' LaRoche said. ''I'm great either way. Hopefully I can help him a bit defensively, I'm more than happy to do that. He seems like an awesome kid.''

Having played his entire career in the National League, with the exception of ''seven days in Boston'' during the middle of 2011 season, LaRoche is still learning names.

''There's a couple guys I've got to know a little bit, a couple guys I played with in the National League, but overall I'm starting over here.''

One of his teammates, relief pitcher Zach Duke, also played with LaRoche in Pittsburgh and Washington.

''If there's one way I can describe Adam LaRoche it is, he is a no-panic individual at all times,'' Duke said. ''Whether he's hitting .180 or .300 he's the same guy. It's not easy to do that.''

LaRoche brings his impressive beard to camp and was hoping he could wear it with Chicago.

Ventura said he has no problem with LaRoche's facial hair.

''I like that beard. I'm not going to grow one like that,'' Ventura said. ''As long as you can't sweep the plate with it we're good.''

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