Can Paul Konerko hit 500?

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Can Paul Konerko hit 500?

A 33-year-old Paul Konerko finished the 2009 season with 28 home runs. He hit No. 300 in memorable fashion, going back-to-back with Jermaine Dye in Detroit as both players hit that milestone dinger.

He had 326 home runs heading into 2010. It was the last year of his five-year deal, and the hope was that he would re-sign and hit career home run No. 400 with the White Sox sometime in late 2012.

Instead, Konerko hit the 400th home run of his career only a few weeks into the 2012 season. He's seen a power renaissance, hitting 70 home runs in the last two years -- 39 in 2010, 31 in 2011. Those totals came after a total of 50 home runs in 2008 and 2009.

Wednesday's home run put Konerko exactly 100 blasts away from the 500 mark, and what would probably turn into an interesting Hall of Fame debate. Few have viewed Konerko as a Hall of Famer throughout his 14-year career, as he's been overshadowed by the likes of Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez at first base.

In fact, since 2000, Konerko has the 13th-highest OPS of any first baseman with at least 3,000 at-bats. Ahead of him: Pujols, Todd Helton, Jason Giambi, Carlos Delgado, Howard, Prince Fielder, Jeff Bagwell, Teixeira, Rafael Palmeiro, Gonzalez, Derrek Lee and Kevin Youkilis. Konerko hasn't dominated an extended period of time like so many other Hall of Famers.

But no player who hasn't been implicated as a steroid user with 500 or more home runs has been shut out of the Hall of Fame. And while anyone can cook up a steroid conspiracy to justify not voting for someone -- as has ridiculously been the case with Bagwell -- Konerko is, by all accounts, clean.

All Konerko has to do is hit 25 more home runs in 2012, then average that number for the next three seasons. That'll get him to 500. Doesn't seem like a very tall order, does it?

There's the problem of Konerko's age, though, and the injuries and regression that come with the late 30's. Yes, Konerko has stayed healthy for the last three seasons. And when he has picked up a knock (like when Andrew Miller drilled his knee with a fastball last summer), he's played through it.

No matter how good of shape Konerko is in, any player who's 37, 38, 39 is going to be an injury risk. Even one trip to the disabled list could derail Konerko's efforts to reach the 500-homer mark.

And then there's the question of exactly how long Konerko will play. His contract with the White Sox runs through 2013, and he's already openly talked about retirement.

"In all reality I would see it ending after next year or maybe another year," Konerko told Chuck Garfien at SoxFest. "I mean, at some point you got to go home and be around your kids and have other things to do."

Konerko added that he'd keep playing if teams wanted him -- and if he keeps marching toward the 500-homer plateau, some organization will take him. There's a good chance that'll be the Sox -- they don't have a viable replacement coming through the farm system just yet (Andy Wilkins could be that guy, but he's a ways off). And the Sox are a very loyal organization, so as long as Konerko keeps producing, he'd probably stick around for a few more years.

There does exist a chance for Konerko to hit 500 home runs in his career. And that could very well come with the White Sox.

But it'll be a long climb. Four years is a lot, especially for someone Konerko's age. But until he stops hitting, we'll keep believing.

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox kick off 10-game homestand vs. A's tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Oakland Athletics tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins at 7 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: Mike Pelfrey (3-5, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jharel Cotton (4-7, 5.40 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

How White Sox players managed the 'chaos' of Thursday's record-setting rain delay

MINNEAPOLIS -- Some guys played cards. The soccer ball got kicked around in spite of the close quarters in the visiting clubhouse. There was dancing. A magic trick or two was attempted. A few players even tried to get in a nap.

White Sox players found myriad ways to keep themselves occupied during Thursday’s draining 4-hour, 50-minute rain delay -- the longest in Minnesota Twins history.

Yet despite not knowing what time the game may start, White Sox players found a way to overcome the uncertainty and stay engaged. Similar to May 26 when the first game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers was cancelled, the White Sox figured out how to go from zero to 60 in mere seconds. Though there’s no exact formula for success, the White Sox seem to have figured out a way to endure the elements and get out quickly. On early Thursday evening, the White Sox overcame the rain and misery to jump ahead of the Minnesota Twins en route to a 9-0 victory at Target Field.

“We keep it real loose whether,” veteran third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We have a good time. We enjoy each other’s company. Win lose or draw, tomorrow’s a new day. Today we kept working hard and we knew we had a game to play and eventually we were going to play it. We turned it on at the right moment.”

Jose Quintana saw so much of his iPad that eventually he had to turn it off out of sheer boredom. Thursday’s starting pitcher was almost able to complete two feature-length movies during the rain delay. Quintana, who excelled with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, watched ‘Fast and Furious 7’ and ‘Get Out’ on his iPad during the delay.

While he liked the action movie, Quintana wasn’t as fond of the latter, though he admits he’s not a big fan of horror movies.

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“I think it was bad because too much time in front of the iPad,” Quintana said. “It made me bored.

“I just tried to stay relaxed, focused on the game. … Tried to come back and work a little bit. It’s a little hard, but we don’t have control so stay focused on the game.”

Whereas the White Sox determined when they played last month at home -- they cancelled Game 1 of a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and pushed the second game back to 8 p.m. because of rain -- this time was in the Twins’ hands. The forecast called for rain all afternoon before things cleared up around 5 p.m.

While the White Sox were in limbo as to when they would play, they had a pretty good idea that eventually they would.

“It’s miserable,” Frazier said. “You try and find some things to do, play cards, hang out with the guys. If you had a set time it would help. But we came out banging in that first inning. It’s huge.”

White Sox manager Rick Renteria is impressed with how his team has handled both long days. The White Sox also defeated the Tigers 8-2 on May 26th. While Renteria and his coaching staff spent a lot of his time preparing for their upcoming home series against the Oakland A’s, he’s pleased with how his players managed themselves through the uncertainty.  

“They’re the ones who are dealing with the chaos,” Renteria said. “They’re the ones who play the game and who have to have their minds to be ready to go out and perform. They’ve been able to respond well. It’s part of who they are, their character, and hopefully it’s something they continue to be able to do and build on.”