Gavin Floyd allows nine runs as Twins torch grieving White Sox
By TONI GINNETTI Sun-Times Media May 22, 2012 11:12PM
Paul Konerko sports a black eye in his first game back since he was hit by a pitch while facing the Cubs last Friday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: July 2, 2012 10:11AM
CHICAGO — Paul Konerko’s vision was back to normal Tuesday, and he was at his post for the White Sox at first base.
But something else had cleared his sight about the ups and downs of a baseball season, and life.
“You know, sometimes life gets in the way of baseball and you see what’s really important,” he said before a 9-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins while still sporting the bruises of being struck in the face by a pitch Friday at Wrigley Field.
Hours earlier, Konerko was a pallbearer at the funeral of Kevin Hickey, the longtime batting-practice pitcher whose own Sox career had been a fantasy come true. Hickey’s death Friday at age 56 had not been unexpected. He had been in a coma since Opening Day, when he was found unresponsive in his hotel room in Texas. But it didn’t become real to the Sox until his wake Monday and funeral Tuesday.
“It was tough to see the family. He’s got (five) daughters and grandkids and all that,” Konerko said of Hickey, a South Side native who suffered from diabetes. “For us, it’s been kind of surreal the last month because although we knew his condition and we knew what might happen, until it actually goes down and you’re at the funeral, it doesn’t make sense. It kind of still doesn’t.”
There was a pregame video tribute to Hickey on Tuesday, with the Twins joining the Sox on the field for a moment of silence.
What followed was an all-around dismal game for the Sox to open a six-game homestand.
Starter Gavin Floyd (3-5) didn’t get past the fourth inning, charged with all nine runs, including a three-run homer by Justin Morneau in the Twins’ five-run fourth.
The Sox scored in the first on Gordon Beckham’s solo home run off P.J. Walters (2-1) — Beckham’s third in the last four games — and in the ninth when Konerko (2-for-4) drove in a run with a ground out.
Walters went the distance, a first for a Twins pitcher this year.
The loss stung in multiple ways. It ended the Sox’ four-game win streak, kept them from reaching .500 again (21-22), dropped their home record to 7-13 and came against the team with baseball’s worst record (15-27).
But one baseball loss didn’t equal the team’s personal loss.
“Now he’s gone, and it kind of hits home with everybody,” manager Robin Ventura said of Hickey. “I think everybody really appreciates things a little bit more, probably hug a few more people and tell them what they really think, because you just never know.
“It’s sad how it happened and how quickly it happened. It’s tough. I don’t know how you put it to the side, but everybody has while you play. It’s when you don’t play that there are reminders — when we’re walking through our clubhouse and doing things he would normally do or say that you think about him. Those are the toughest parts, when you’re actually not playing the game.
“It’s one of the things you don’t really get over in your day-to-day stuff. You still play the game, but you’re used to hearing and seeing certain things, and it’s just not there.”