MESA, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko’s decision whether or not he’d join the World Baseball Classic was made long before he was to possibly receive an invite this week.
Konerko -- who homered twice in an 8-3 win over the Cubs on Thursday -- committed to stay with the White Sox once he wasn’t selected for Team USA’s WBC roster in January.
Konerko noted he initially didn’t want to play in the exhibition, which begins for Team USA on Friday here in Phoenix, but changed his mind and became eligible.
Team USA manager Joe Torre instead selected New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who has withdrawn from the WBC with a mild strain of his right forearm tendon.
“I knew there was no guarantee I’d be on the team,” said Konerko, who has hits in six straight at-bats. “I thought about it and figured OK. Give it a shot and see what happens. I said yes, but I obviously didn’t make the team. I also told them at that time that I’m on or off. I’m not an alternate. I don’t want to come to spring training and have exactly what happened happen. So, I knew there was no chance in me playing for that the second that I wasn’t on the team.”
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It’s not as if Konerko feels he’s unprepared to play in the exhibition. On the contrary, the White Sox slugger worked ahead this offseason just in case Torre asked him to participate. But with the travel required -- Round 2 is in Miami and the final rounds are in San Francisco -- and his family here, Konerko didn’t want to change plans at the last minute.
Torre tabbed Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer as Teixeira’s replacement. Konerko also didn’t expect a call from Torre, though White Sox manager Robin Ventura indicated it might be a possibility, because he thought the team needed a left-handed bat in Teixeira’s stead.
“I was a little bit ahead of schedule into January just because at that point I didn’t know if I was on the team or not,” Konerko said. “It was more just other things. Family stuff. Because when you are going to be traveling, they were going to go to Miami, it was stuff like that I had to know. I wasn’t going to be blitzed with it.”
Quintana strikes out four
Jose Quintana likes efficiency on the mound but still wants hitters to know he has a strikeout in his repertoire. Although he struck out 334 hitters in 300 minor-league innings, Quintana only whiffed 81 in 136 1/3 innings last season with the Sox.
He struck out four in 3 2/3 innings on Thursday. Quintana allowed a run, two hits and a walk.
“In the minor leagues, I was able to strike out a lot of batters,” Quintana said through a translator. “Last year, I didn’t as much but was able to throw more strikes. I want to be very efficient with my pitches. Pitching to contact is OK, but I want to be able to strike them out too.”
Crain may pitch soon
Jesse Crain hasn’t pitched in more than a week with a strained adductor muscle (hip) but he threw off a bullpen mound on Thursday. The injury has caused Crain to sit out the WBC. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he thinks Crain can return to action soon.
-- Left-handed pitcher Leyson Septimo left Thursday’s game with an arm injury, per manager Robin Ventura. Septimo exited the game with two outs in the ninth inning.
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-- Reliever Ramon Troncoso, a nonroster invitee, struck out two in a scoreless inning. He has allowed one run in seven innings this spring (1.29 ERA). Brian Omogrosso also pitched a scoreless frame and hasn’t yielded an earned run in six innings.
-- Adam Dunn blasted his second home run of the spring, a two-run shot, and finished 2-for-3. Second baseman Gordon Beckham doubled in a run in three at-bats. Outfielder Jared Mitchell also went 2-for-3 and has hit .438 this spring.