Konerko may have hit his final home run with the White Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org September 26, 2013 10:38PM
Chicago White Sox's Avisail Garcia (26) greets Paul Konerko outside the dugout after Konerko's home run off Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie during the second inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: September 26, 2013 10:42PM
The White Sox sent a representative to fetch the home run ball Paul Konerko hit in the team’s 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals. It might be one the franchise’s No. 2 home run hitter of all time might want to keep.
If Konerko doesn’t homer in the last three games of the season, it could be the last of his White Sox career, or his baseball career should the 37-year-old decided to retire. His contract is up in a few days.
Konerko is expected to shed light on the subject when he formally meets the media before the Sox play the Royals on Friday.
“The best swing I took tonight was the first swing of the last inning [when he struck out],’’ Konerko said. “It was a real good swing. When you hit a home run it’s the best feeling in sports, probably. So you always feel great about it, feel good, every player, no matter if you hit a lot of home runs or a little [number of] home runs, you always have the best feeling. But that’s one thing.
“This year I’ve hit a lot of balls hard that the path, I put ‘em on a line or I put ‘em on the ground or even balls that got down in the left-field corner, whatever it is, they’re balls I usually hit on that trajectory. And they’re not hit any less hard than say the ball I hit tonight it’s just path, it’s the technique of it all and that’s where it is for me. That one tonight, I attacked that one the right way to put it in the air and getting going, I just haven’t done that a lot this year.’’
It was a night that sort of typified Konerko’s ongoing attempt to capture the consistent excellence he had sustained through much of his 15 years with the Sox. He struck out three times. And he hit the homer, his 12th of the season and 434th of his career to tie Andrew Jones and Juan Gonzalez for 42nd place on the all-time list.
“He’s had times where he hasn’t felt as good as other times,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “When he goes up there he has a good plan. He can still take it the other way. He’s a tough at-bat.’’
Konerko is five total bases shy of tying Frank Thomas for first place in club history. Thomas is the Sox home run and RBI leader.
“[I’ve had] some better at-bats but nothing I’m crazy about,’’ Konerko said. “But, you know, fighting the fight, picking up some hits here and there but not good enough to … those at-bats where they could kind of go either way, not good enough to get over the hump when you have that 1-for-3 or 1-for-4 [game]. There’s that one at-bat where you kinda got a 2-2 count, 3-2 count, you’re fighting, you foul it off and then you wind up making an out because you just can’t finish it off. A lot of those so it is what it is.’’
Ventura joked that Konerko “probably plans on hitting one every day the rest of the way.’’
“You don’t know,’’ Ventura said. “But I think any time players kind of go through this situation, I’m sure there are some weird thoughts of the last time for anything.’’
The Sox need to win one of their remaining three games to avoid 100 losses.
“You don’t want to lose 100,’’ Konerko said. “You don’t want to put that on the team next year. Whoever is here is gonna have to answer questions about this season and just have it in the back of their minds. If you can avoid it you can avoid it. I promise you if we don’t lose the next three we know what it feels like to lose 100. I don’t think we need to confirm it. But at the same time we have some guys and some coaches that have been on 100-loss teams and it’s just not something you want on your resume so let’s try to get at least get a win here. Win the next three, but let’s get one so we can’t have anybody say we lost 100.’’