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.

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

The White Sox have agreed to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations late Monday, according to multiple major league sources.

Bourjos was signed to a minor league contract and invited to camp with the White Sox. He was expected to see a good amount of playing time in center field in the wake of Charlie Tilson’s injury.

Trading Bourjos improves rookie Jacob May’s chances of making the Opening Day roster.

Bourjos, 29, has played for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels over the span of his career. His best season came with the Angels in 2011, when he hit .271 with 12 homers and 43 RBIs. 

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland ended a productive spring with his best outing to date on Monday afternoon.

Healthy and excited to officially kick off his White Sox career, Holland delivered six strong innings in a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. The left-hander allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings pitched, walking two and striking out one. Holland is expected to pitch once more in Milwaukee on Saturday before pitching in the third game of the regular season.

“Definitely feel good,” Holland said. “Feel very confident with everything, very happy with how the spring went. I worked on what we needed to work on to get myself ready for the season and stay healthy and I’m very happy with that. But most of all when you get out there and pitch, the defense, you have to keep them on their toes, and I thought the last out was the perfect example of that.”

Holland was referring to a nice diving catch by Jacob May that prevented at least one run from scoring. The longtime Texas Rangers pitcher was pleased to have established his fastball early and mixed in his offspeed pitches and changeup.

“I wanted to make sure we were going the distance,” Holland said. “I didn’t want to have a setback, and I thought we did a great job.”

The White Sox appear to have narrowly avoided one setback on Monday and are awaiting word on another. An X-ray on the left wrist of infielder Tyler Saladino was negative after he was hit by a pitch while getting in work in a pair of minor-league games. Saladino has been diagnosed with a bruised wrist.

The team is still awaiting word on pitcher Jake Petricka, who took a comebacker off his pitching hand in the seventh inning. Petricka exited the game, got his hand wrapped in ice and left to take an X-ray.

The White Sox are also waiting to learn the results of Carlos Rodon’s second opinion. Rodon was scratched from Friday’s start with a tight bicep tendon and had a physical exam and took an MRI, both of which showed he had no structural damage. Rodon traveled to Los Angeles early Monday for the second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Even if he receives the all clear, the White Sox will remain cautious, manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s almost like you have to re-start the process a little bit,” Renteria said. “It would be foolish to try to anticipate or push him into any direction without first of all ultimately having whatever the diagnosis is or the validation or whatever it might be of the second opinion. Once we get that, we’ll know hopefully tomorrow how we can ultimately proceed. I wouldn’t think we’d try to ramp him up quickly.”

The club also expects to have more clarity on the status of right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya on Tuesday. Minaya, who has been out since March 15 with an abdominal tear, was re-evaluated on Monday. Minaya had a 3.18 ERA and nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Matt Davidson also had two hits in the White Sox victory and drove in a run. Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer, his first of the spring. Yolmer Sanchez blasted his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot.

Zach Putnam struck out two in a scoreless inning.