The end may be approaching, but Konerko's career keeps ticking

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The end may be approaching, but Konerko's career keeps ticking

Paul Konerko isn't afraid to tell it like it is. There's little gray area in his words. What he sees, is what you get, which over the course of his career could fill a library of reporter notebooks.

The White Sox captain arrived at Sox Fest knowing that this could be his last as a player. It may not be the focus of his attention, but in the back of his mind, its there.

He knows the end is near.

When will the retire? Hes not sure yet. But with another year added to the back of his baseball card -- his 16th in the majors -- he says hes prepared to say good-bye.

"A couple years ago, I sat right here and I was ready for that to be the last year," Konerko told CSNChicago.com at the Palmer House Hilton, the site of Sox Fest.

He says he loved the approach of the 2012 White Sox.

"The concentration on the small things last year was as good as any team I've ever been on."

As for him, he admits that his hitting was a season-long struggle.

"I was lucky to do anything I did -- all year."

This is coming from a man who could possess a PhD in hitting. He's Dr. Konerko with a bat instead of a stethoscope. You can also call him Professor Konerko, the academic king of hitting. However, if you asked him to grade his performance from last season, he might give himself a D. Possibly even an F.

"I never felt that good from the get-go, so it was kind of one of those years where it was smoke and mirrors for most of it," Konerko admits. "Looking back on it, I feel like it could have been a disaster if I didn't grind through it probably as much as I can. I just didn't feel like I had it. You have years like that."

Konerko ended the season batting .298 with 26 HRs and 75 RBIs. Not great, but also not good for someone like Konerko, especially considering his red-hot start.

On May 27, he was leading the majors with a .399 batting average. He also had 11 HRs and 33 RBIs. Reporters started asking him about the chances of actually finishing the season batting .400.

But Konerko knew something that we didnt.

"Sometimes balls are falling for you. Things happen and the numbers say you're doing well and you just don't feel good. That happens too," he explains. "I'd say that's more of what was going on during the beginning of the season. I could tell by the way I was hitting. I could just tell."

So now we are left to ask the question: Was 2012 just a fluke year or was it the start of the final downward trend of Konerko's career?

"That's a good question. If I was listening to the interview, I'd say, well, that's called a trend of what's happening," Konerko says. "I understand that. That comes with the territory. I can't think like that."

Instead, Konerko, who turns 37 on March 5, can only think about the upcoming season. Nothing more, nothing less. Where's it all going? He doesn't have the answer. But he remembers how he felt after the 2009 season, another trying year at the plate when he thought about retirement for the first time.

"I wasn't that young then. It was a similar year where I felt okay but the game felt really hard to play all year. Then you come back for a couple years after that and feel like it's very easy to play, so you never really know where it's going to turn."

Here's what Konerko does know:

"I'm still good at this. This is what I do, and I still want to do it. That's another thing. Just because you can't do it anymore, doesn't mean that you don't want to play anymore. I think people should know that. Don't look at the numbers, that if things are going well in 2013, that necessarily means I would play after this season. And the reverse of that is true, too.

It has to start with you having a passion to get ready in the off-season. That commitment from early November all the way until spring training. If it was just playing a six-month season, guys would probably play longer if they could, because that's the fun part. Getting ready for a whole season is a huge commitment. If you say you're going to do it, you can't shortchange that."

Paul has seen many of his teammates from the 2005 World Series squad retire. Three of them -- Jermaine Dye, Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand -- were there at Sox Fest.

Dye says you just know deep down when its time to leave.

Konerko believes hell know too, but hes not there yet. Theres more baseball to be played. Still, he cant help but think about the next chapter in his life, whenever that day comes.

"It's tough not to," Konerko says. "This time in your career there can be some heavy thoughts about that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day my job is no different than it was 10 years ago. That's to go out and do well for the 2013 Chicago White Sox. That is the goal. That's what I'm going to do. If I do that, the other stuff will sort itself out. Whether it's the game and the team sorting me out, or me sorting the rest of it out. Who knows? I have no idea how that's going to go."

Baseball doesn't have a clock. Careers do.

But for now, Konerko is still ticking.

Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

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Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Mike Wright

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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White Sox' win streak ends at 6 as John Danks struggles again

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White Sox' win streak ends at 6 as John Danks struggles again

BALTIMORE -- John Danks’ margin for error just isn’t very wide.

He and the White Sox discovered that yet again on Thursday night when the Baltimore Orioles made the veteran pay for several third-inning mistakes. With several potential options to choose from, whether or not the White Sox will give him another start to find a rhythm becomes the big question.

Danks surrendered a pair of long home runs and allowed six earned runs and the White Sox fell to the Orioles, 10-2, at Oriole Park at Camden Yard in front of 14,568. The loss snapped a six-game White Sox winning streak and is the team’s first defeat since Danks’ last start on April 21. A “miserable” April for Danks ended with his fourth loss in four starts and a 7.25 ERA.

“There’s 24 guys in there that are setting the world on fire,” Danks said. “That’s probably the most disappointing part of it. Shoot man, we were hot. Still are. These guys are going to be bounce back and we’ll be fine. But damn, got in the way of something special tonight.”

For Thursday night at least, manager Robin Ventura didn’t discuss if the team plans to make a change at the back end of its rotation. But the White Sox have shown they may entertain the idea.

A team off to its hottest start since 2006 jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run homer by Todd Frazier. But Danks yielded a run in the first inning and had to be bailed out by a great relay throw home to prevent a tie. Danks later walked Caleb Joseph to start the third inning and Manny Machado’s one-out double to right tied it at 2. Chris Davis launched a two-run homer to right-center field and Mark Trumbo followed with a solo shot to put the Orioles ahead 5-2.

Danks put up zeroes in the fourth and fifth innings, but exited after he surrendered a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy in the sixth. That run eventually scored during five-run Orioles rally against Jake Petricka.

Danks allowed nine hits and walked two while throwing strikes on 56 of 96 pitches.

“He’s just living in the middle of the plate and this is not the team to do it with,” Ventura said. “Right now we’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that and continue to make him better so he can help us.”

It was only earlier this week when the White Sox went to the minor leagues for help when they promoted recently signed starter Miguel Gonzalez to give him an opportunity. While Gonzalez showed rust in Monday’s start, he also settled in against a tough Toronto Blue Jays lineup, which allowed the White Sox to rally for a big win.

Ventura said he was impressed with how Gonzalez handled himself against the Blue Jays in his first big league start of the season. However, Ventura didn’t make any commitments about the right-hander’s future and Gonzalez was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday.

But the decision to push Danks out of the series in Toronto, a team against whom he has poor numbers, raises questions about how long the White Sox might keep him in the rotation.

Ventura noted on Monday that the White Sox have several options from which to choose if they need help in the rotation.

Jacob Turner has a 2.49 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings at Charlotte. Erik Johnson, also at Charlotte, has a 3.24 ERA in three starts. And there’s Gonzalez, who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 with the Orioles before he fell off last season.

“I don’t know if we’ve necessarily had that for a while,” Ventura said.

The White Sox have Monday off before they start a six-game homestand on Tuesday. That means they could skip Danks’ next turn in the rotation without moving around any of their other starters, a group Danks acknowledged is “dealing.” They also could stash him in the bullpen.

Danks felt confident he was dealing this spring in Arizona. He showed better fastball command than he had in some time, which had the White Sox front office feeling cautiously optimistic. But Danks didn’t have any fastball command on Thursday and he paid for it. For now, Danks said all he could do is work to improve and ignore the big picture.

“I’m in no position to pitch from behind, deep, long at-bats,” Danks said. “I’ve got enough to worry about here than anything else. I’ll be ready to go. I’ll work hard. I’m not going to pout or anything. Never have or never will. I guess it’s part of it. It’s not easy, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s work hard and get ready to take the ball.”

Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

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Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

BALTIMORE -- He may have been disappointed when he was sent to Charlotte last month, but Carlos Sanchez hasn’t let it affect his play.

Sanchez’s play at Triple-A has been so good that he’s back with the White Sox, at least temporarily.

The White Sox promoted the middle infielder on Thursday after they placed closer David Robertson on the bereavement list. Sanchez, who appeared in 120 games for the White Sox last season, is hitting .309/.356/.469 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 89 plate appearances at Charlotte.

“It’s never a good feeling for a guy trying to make the team,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He played well enough in spring training, but you make decisions based on what you need on the roster and it’s a tough one. But he’s always handled that well. Any time he’s gone down there he has gotten his work in.”

Sanchez said he tries to avoid looking at the big picture, which helps him remain focused on a daily basis. After they acquired Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier in the offseason, the White Sox no longer had an everyday role for Sanchez, who spent most of last season at the starting second baseman. Because he’s only 23, the White Sox told Sanchez they wanted him to play every day and continue to improve. He has taken the message to heart.

“They don’t want to keep me here just to be on the bench,” Sanchez said. “They need me to play every day to keep developing my game, and I took it.

“I feel really good. My game is really good right now, so I’m just going to try to help the team. Whatever they need, I’m going to be there for my team.”