Konerko prepared for what could be final season

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Konerko prepared for what could be final season

Hes about to enter the final season of his contract and Paul Konerko intends to do so with a realistic approach.

The White Sox slugger, who turns 37 in March, isnt sure whether he wants to play in 2014 or where he might be if he does choose to return. With no certainty to any of it, Konerko has already identified his game plan on his future. Prior to the start of Sox Fest on Friday, Konerko said he plans to not to cheat his teammates this season --- his focus is purely about the season ahead.

You know at some point your career is going to end, said Konerko, a six-time All-Star who enters 2013 with 422 career home runs. I dont know right now. My thing is just have a solid season and do my job. Thats all it boils down to. I signed a contract to do a job and I want to make sure I do what I signed up for. That has nothing to do with the other distractions of What are you going to do? If I spend time thinking and talking about that stuff Im not doing what Im supposed to be doing for this team.

Konerko was last in this position in December 2010.

Hes experienced friends, family and media asking whether or not he wants to continue playing and where he might end up. He knows hell face them again.

As if he hadnt already been made aware to the business aspect of the game, Konerko admits his guard is already up after he watched in consecutive offseasons as Mark Buerhle and A.J. Pierzynski departed via free agency even though both hoped to return.

So even though he wont know whether or not he wants to play again until after this season, Konerko sounds prepared to roll with whatever comes.

How Im going to feel seven months from now, what I think, I cant project, Konerko said. There are so many moving points that factor in that decision --- kids, family, teams, body. I could not possibly factor all of those decisions now and project it out because I cant do it.

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

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USA TODAY

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

Adam Engel is making the most of his second opportunity with the White Sox.

Engel had his best game of the season in Thursday’s finale against the Minnesota Twins, where he went 4-for-5 with three singles, a double, and two RBIs in the White Sox 9-0 win. He became the first White Sox outfielder with a four-hit game within their first 11 career MLB games since Harold Baines (10th game) on April 20, 1980, according to CSN stats guru Chris Kamka.

"Some days you hit it, some days you don’t," Engel said. "Yesterday was the day that I hit it.”

After nearly a five-hour rain delay, the White Sox came out hot right from the get-go on Thursday. In fact, by the time Engel was ready to bat for the first time, the White Sox were already leading 4-0 and Twins starter Nik Turley had been yanked from the game.

“It was awesome,” Engel. “(The) team is winning, getting some hits. It’s a great feeling. Obviously the goal is to try and help the team win.”

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Engel made his major league debut on May 27 and then was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on June 9. His wife Jaime had a child on June 12, and almost a week later, he was recalled again by the White Sox to replace an injured Leury Garcia.

Engel, who's hitting .344/.382/.406 entering Friday's game, will look to keep his hot streak going with his wife and newborn in attendance.

Mark Buehrle relishing life after baseball, and his new softball position

Mark Buehrle relishing life after baseball, and his new softball position

Mark Buehrle was known for plenty of things in his 16-year career, whether it was winning 214 games, being a five-time All-Star, throwing a perfect game and a no-hitter, winning a World Series and throwing 200 or more innings in 14 consecutive seasons. 

Now, the 38-year-old is relishing life as a dad and husband. Oh, and as the first baseman and cleanup hitter for his beer league softball team. 

Hey, Buehrle’s probably the only one on the team to hit a home run in the major leagues, in addition to that whole other list of pitching accomplishments. But socking softball dingers hasn’t given Buehrle the itch to get back into baseball, at least not yet. 

“I honestly thought I'd miss it more, the first year at home sitting on the couch and watching games and thinking, 'Man, what am I doing? I probably should still be playing,’” Buehrle said. “But the little ones have kept me busy and the wife's honey do list is not getting any shorter. But no, I enjoy being home and running the kids around and doing all the stuff we're doing. I haven't really missed it at all.”

Buehrle led the American League in complete games in 2015 and finished that year with a 15-8 record and 3.81 ERA, though he fell 1 1/3 innings shy of making it 15 consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings pitched. But he was isolated in Toronto, with his family still in St. Louis, and knew that even though he probably had more left in the tank, he didn’t want to continue playing. 

So Buehrle didn’t have a retirement tour, reportedly turned down some one-year offers and bought an RV after the 2015 season. 

“I was sitting in my apartment too much saying, ‘I’m a family guy, I’m a dad. I’m not a single college student,’” Buehrle said. “That’s what I felt like. I knew I was done that whole year leading up to it. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. I wanted to go off in the sunset kind of quiet. I didn’t want all the attention.”

Someday, Buehrle expects he’ll want to get back into the game in some capacity. His kids are eight and nine (going on 10) years old, though, so it probably won’t be anytime soon. Unless you count getting back in the game as playing some beer league softball. 

“Right now we are so busy at home and enjoying that, I wouldn’t want to have to keep leaving again,” Buehrle said. “Eventually I would like to do something to stay involved.”