Unknowingly, what led Adam Eaton to this point has also dumped him at the center of the squeaky development of baseball.
He was a too short 19th round in 2010. Eaton lifted, worked and needed to lift from rookieball in the Pioneer League to a major-league debut just two years later. Eaton went back to the minors, back to the big ones, was traded to the White Sox, and then became a painterly player advanced statistics loved, even though his teammates did not feel the same way.
Eaton does not know a different style or mentality, and why would he change? His extroversion – the same behavior that caused clubhouse clubs and effort on the field – made him the only positional player in high school history to reach the major leagues. In short, he should not be here.
But, he managed it. And by doing so, it ended up winning a World Series ring with a veteran-laden team. Just over a year later, he is back in Chicago, a 32-year-old caught up in the league’s slow changes.
Eaton joins the young, bubbly White Sox team now led by 76-year-old Tony La Russa. The age difference between La Russa and the stars of his team is huge. He could easily be the grandfather of many of them. Tim Anderson (27), Lucas Giolito (26), Eloy Jimėnez (24), Yoán Moncada (25) and Luis Robert (22) are the core of this upcoming team. They are demonstrative by baseball standards, especially Anderson, who has fully embraced bats no matter the circumstances.
In the fourth round of a pointless game against unhappy Kansas City in 2019, Anderson homers to the field deep to the left. He put the bat in his right hand, threw it back on the excavation, said something, then turned to the first base and started jogging. The catcher popped the mask up to give Anderson a look. Pearls were squeezed across the league. Unwritten rules gasped and certain members of the league groaned.
Therefore, Eaton was asked in his first radio interview since signing with the White Sox if he thought La Russa could relate to the younger players on the team. It has been a question since La Russa was hired to manage for the first time since 2011.
“There are some concerns because he is older and he has been away from the game for a while, at least as a manager he has not been in the excavation for a while, he may have a hard time dealing with the current player,” the host asked . “Would that be a problem?”
“All right, you’re having a good day,” Eaton said.
“That’s it?” so verten.
“I’ll talk to you later. I appreciate that, ”said Eaton. “Yes, I gave you two minutes. Thanks people. “
A tweet from the exchange suggested that Eaton put in place (and asked for more cry-from-laughter emojis in a response from Anderson). He did not. Instead, Eaton was as he always is: ready to speak on his terms and vote with those who do not go the same way.
Eaton’s media events in Washington occasionally watered down brief discourse when it seemed unnecessary. During an in-dugout press conference in 2017, Eaton sat with his crutches, ready to update journalists on the recovery process from his unfortunate early ACL tear. He laughed, was talkative and extremely friendly until he was asked if doctors found other injuries when they reconstructed the ACL, which is often because they cannot see everything before the procedure itself. He immediately turned around and then informed the media that he was doing them a favor by attending the meeting. Questions resume after a surprised lull.
In 2019, Eaton left his closet to inject himself into a conversation between another player and a reporter on the other side of the clubhouse. The player interviewed had no problem with the question line. Still, it was Eaton, who called the questions a “joke” when he returned to the coach room after interrupting and physically joining the conversation.
It is difficult, and perhaps unfair, to measure someone on limited samples. Everyone has bad days at work. Or say things they should have suffocated. However, this is relevant in Eaton’s new situation – and across baseball – as the sport creeps forward. In Chicago, Eaton will be his chatty, at times pronounced, confidence. La Russa will be investigated for how he handles the younger players. The younger head of the White Sox crowd will look at both with some skepticism, especially after La Russa publicly shook Fernando Tatis Jr. who hit a grand slam in a 3-0 count as the Padres led by seven races in the eighth round in August. He elaborated on his position when he was introduced by the White Sox.
“A good example is (Dennis Eckersley) all the years when he had the very expressive fist pump when he came out in third place,” said La Russa. “It’s very similar to what you see today. I always reasoned if it was sincere, I had no problem with it, with players getting more bubbly. Take Tim Anderson as an example. Now there are people who show that ‘Hey, I’m coming through.’ In fact, Major League Baseball encourages them to do so. If I see that it is sincere and it is aimed at the game, it shows the feeling you want. As a coach, you want to get players passionately involved in the competition. If you do, then you get exciting games, you entertain. “If your team celebrates and their team celebrates, neither team can be upset if you see celebrations as long as everyone does it sincerely.” Whoever judges sincerity is always wrinkled. A 76-year-old manager, a 32-year-old veteran or a 20-year-old who was an actual child when MLB first said, “Let the kids play.”
Juan Soto and Victor Robles – whose on-site celebration was celebrated by Davey Martinez – gave Eaton a look at what will be a more widespread mindset in Chicago, where Eaton will be one of six players on Chicago’s 40-man roster born before 1990. By comparison, nationals have six boxes alone on the 40-man list born before 1990.
Which makes Eaton the middleman between the manager, the media and the young players. All the recent teams baseball tries to tangle with, will combine in one clubhouse, and try to exist at the same time and survive, to give a telling story.