It's no secret that the White Sox will need Paul Konerko to have another All-Star caliber season -- with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs -- if they hope to make a run at the American League Central Division championship.
But they'll need his character and leadership skills even more. With the departure of Mark Buehrle, it leaves Konerko and catcher A.J. Pierzynski as the only players remaining from the 2005 World Series championship team.
"I'm not going to take (the title) away from him, I'll tell you that," manager Robin Ventura told the Chicago Tribune's Dave van Dyck. "He deserves that, not only as a player but within the clubhouse as a guy who goes about it the right way. It's huge to have a guy like that. Most of the stuff is dealt with by guys in the clubhouse anyway."
With a number of young players on the roster including likely starters Brent Morel, Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza, Konerko's attitude and professionalism might never be more important.
Konerko's continued production at the plate and captain's skills over the remaining two years of his contract could be a huge factor in Ventura's early success.