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.

Discomfort sidelines White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie

Discomfort sidelines White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox held Brett Lawrie out Saturday after he reported discomfort in the same left leg that sidelined him for the final 2 1/2 months of 2016.

The second baseman has been a full participant the entire spring until he informed manager Rick Renteria what he was experiencing Saturday. 

"We're going to reevaluate him tomorrow and see where he's at," Renteria said. "He didn't feel quite right, and so he was in there earlier today getting treatment. We'll reevaluate tomorrow and make a determination where we're at in terms of trying to set some parameters for how we move forward."

A confusing, tricky series of injuries that Lawrie blamed on wearing orthotics limited him to 94 games last season. He hit the disabled list on July 22 and didn't discover the cause until after the season ended. But Lawrie reported to camp feeling healthy once again and has participated at 100 percent until this point, Renteria said.

"It's been good," Renteria said. "Everything has been clean. There have been no notifications anything had been amiss. He just woke up this morning and felt it. So we're going to be very cautious, take it a day at a time, reevaluate it and see where we're at."

Zack Collins, Yoan Moncada play as White Sox fall to Dodgers

Zack Collins, Yoan Moncada play as White Sox fall to Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manager Rick Renteria promised before Saturday's game the prospects would play and they certainly did.

White Sox prospects Zack Collins and Yoan Moncada both entered in the fifth inning of Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Collins singled in two at-bats while Moncada, the centerpiece in the Chris Sale trade, went 0-for-2.

"It was fun," Collins said. "To be able to go out there on the first day was an honor to me. A little jittery, but very excited to play.

"I'm the new guy, it's my first year and the first game played and I get to play. It's definitely an honor."

It's a distinction that will be shared by many, Renteria said. With the White Sox focused on player development and a longer spring schedule, the prospects should get a long look. Given the club's top eight prospects — according to MLB.com — are in big league camp, many will see significant playing time early in camp.

"We've got a long spring and a lot of opportunities," Renteria said. "You're going to see a lot of our kids."

Reliever Zack Burdi, the 26th overall pick of last June's draft, is scheduled to appear in Sunday's game when the White Sox host the Rockies. The White Sox also tentatively have listed Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez as the starting pitchers for their split-squad doubleheader on Tuesday. 

Collins took advantage of his first chance with a ninth-inning single off Dodgers pitcher Edward Paredes. Next up for the 2016 first-rounder is a report Monday for his teammates as part of Renteria's morning meetings.

"I have my little presentation going," Collins said. "I'll probably be more nervous than I will playing."