Home opener still special for veteran Konerko

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Home opener still special for veteran Konerko

Thursday, April 7, 2011
Posted: 3:47 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The 3-2 White Sox returned home for their first game in Chicago, packing a couple of players who werent sure theyd return after last season, Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.

Konerko begins his sixth season as White Sox captain and has insisted since the end of 2010 that he never counted Chicago out as his 2011 destination.

Home openers are always special, he said. You remember every Opening Day. You remember every home opener. At least I do; other than getting to the playoffs, that will be the only time all year that has that feel. Definitely, thinking back to last year, I didnt know where Id be, I didnt necessarily think I wouldnt be there. I just didnt know.

As for the popular players connection to fans, Konerko feels it as strong as ever.

Its nice. It means they appreciate that youve showed up and played, he said. It kind of gives you energy to go out and do it again because the longer you play, the tougher it gets to drag yourself out there every day and get after it. When youre at home, you should draw energy from your fans and Opening Day at home is the most youll get all year, barring the playoffs so you try to use it.

Pierzynski was literally one phone call from joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, a move he didnt want to make but after the big-money signings of Adam Dunn and Konerko, the White Sox coffers were thought to be dried up.

I expect a nice ovation, Guillen said. PK has been here for so long and A.J., everybody in Chicago likes AJ and I dont know why. Maybe because hes Polish.

Guillen is thrilled when longtime players are honored by teams, and expected a nice reception for both players.

They are playing good for us and have been playing good for a long time, he said. We are very excited to have them here because I remember when I took those guys out in 2010s season finale, when both players received long ovations, in the back of my mind, I was saying bye to them. I thank God, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Kenny Williams we brought those guys back.

As far as Opening Day, however, dont count Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as a huge fan.

I have to deal with all of these people, Guillen lamented. Opening Day, back home, its all exciting. You have the PR guys with suits and ties, like its a special day. You see the people in the front office with the suit and tie, like they are going to be in the team picture.

Still, Guillen knows how important the day is for fansvirtually an official holiday for fans of the home team.

Opening Day here is exciting because the fans, he said. To me, its for the fans and the media. You have a chance to come back home and enjoy this day. Its a special day for people. For me its another year in the big leagues, another year back home. Its my 21st with the White Sox. I cant wait until the game starts.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Jose Abreu hopes to be ready for White Sox next game after leaving with injury

Jose Abreu hopes to be ready for White Sox next game after leaving with injury

Jose Abreu said he hopes to be ready to go when the White Sox start their series against the Detroit Tigers on Friday.

The White Sox first baseman took an awkward-looking fall on the infield grass while trying to field a grounder in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s win over the visiting Kansas City Royals, leaving the game with what the team announced as a mild right hip flexor strain. Abreu was labeled as day-to-day.

Manager Rick Renteria didn’t have any sort of update after the game — though he said he didn't think it was serious — but in his comments to reporters, Abreu said he felt fine after receiving treatment and will be ready to go for Friday’s series opener in Detroit.

“I feel good right now,” Abreu said. “I got treatment and I feel good. The day off tomorrow is going to help and I hope to be ready for the first game in Detroit.”

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Both Renteria and Abreu said the first baseman had no desire to exit Wednesday’s game but that Renteria was being appropriately cautious.

“He did not want to come out,” Renteria said. “He was pretty adamant but I think all of us, you don't take any chances. I think it was just the right thing to do at that time.”

“When you are on the field, you didn’t want to leave the field. It doesn’t matter what’s the reason or what’s happening,” Abreu said. “But he’s the boss and he made that decision and you have to accept it.”

Abreu went 2-for-2 with a two-out RBI double in the first inning Wednesday before he left. He has had two hits in each of his last four games and is 8-for-15 during the White Sox current four-game winning streak.

The White Sox are off Thursday. The team said Abreu will be reevaluated then after arriving in Detroit.

With White Sox hitters' support, Jose Quintana picks up first win of 2017

With White Sox hitters' support, Jose Quintana picks up first win of 2017

Four runs isn’t exactly an eye-popping total. But for Jose Quintana and his luck, it can seem like a gigantic number.

The White Sox starting pitcher is famously left wanting for run support nearly every time he takes the mound. So after the visiting Kansas City Royals erased a two-run White Sox advantage by the middle of the sixth inning Wednesday, it looked like Quintana might be heading for another bad-luck no decision — or worse.

But Avisail Garcia, he of the resurgent 2017 campaign, came to Quintana’s aid, belting a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to put the White Sox back in front. It put Quintana in position for his first win of the season, which he officially earned when things went final a few innings later.

“He hit the ball at the right time. It was a good time,” Quintana said after the 5-2 victory on the South Side. “He told me, ‘That’s for you.’”

Quintana’s own 2017 season hasn’t gotten off to the kind of start you’d expect from the 2016 All Star. He took a loss in each of his first four outings and didn’t pitch like his normal self, entering Wednesday’s game with a 6.17 ERA.

But Wednesday saw Quintana return to form. He struck out 10 batters, a season high and the eighth such effort he’s had in his career. He surrendered just a pair of runs, only one of which was earned.

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Third baseman Todd Frazier said he saw something a little different in Quintana on Wednesday.

“I saw it in his face. He had some look about him,” Frazier said. “It was weird. He was getting mad at me because I didn’t get the ball back to him in time. I love that stuff. I’ll definitely make sure I get it to him quicker. He had a mentality about him, you know, put fear in some hitters eyes.”

Quintana, who kept saying that he “needed” this kind of performance in this game, confirmed it was an accurate assessment.

“Yeah, it was a mission,” Quintana said. “Everybody was doing their job. I needed this outing, so I felt really good on the mound. It was extra motivation to win my first one.

“I needed that outing, I needed that win. I never started like that (with four losses), so I’m really proud of the first win for me. The first of many, so I can’t wait to keep doing my job.”

While the pitcher was different this time around, so too was his offense. The White Sox are locked in some kind of offensive surge right now, combining for 33 runs during a four-game winning streak.

In Quintana’s first four starts, the team mustered just four total runs, shut out in two of those games. While certainly everyone would like the offensive production to continue, it was performances like Wednesday’s that remind you that even when the team isn’t scoring for him — and that’s been often — he still has All-Star stuff.

“As a teammate, you always enjoy when one of your pitchers is having that kind of performance that Quintana had today,” Leury Garcia said. “You’re always trying to help him, you’re always trying to do your best to help your teammates to win games. And for us, the defense was good just to stay there and watch him do his stuff. That was good.”