Sox Drawer: Is This the Konerko Countdown?

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Sox Drawer: Is This the Konerko Countdown?

Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
7:40 PM
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Glendale, Ariz - In the movie The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood go around Chicago famously trying to put the band back together.

Since 2005, weve been watching another famous Chicago band slowly break apart. Once upon a time, they were belting out Dont Stop Believin. Nowadays, theyre singing a different Journey tune.

Separate Ways.

Rowand. Podsednik. Dye. There goes the horn section.

Crede. Garland. Uribe. The rhythm section is gone too.

And after this season, this former Sox supergroup could be losing its lead singer.

Paul Konerko.

For 11 seasons, the Sox captain has been the rock inside the clubhouse. The man who famously gave Jerry Reinsdorf the baseball that clinched the 2005 World Series, which probably also clinched the five-year, 60 million contract Konerko signed soon after.

But here we are, coming up on five years later, and Paul arrived at camp on Friday a little older, a little grayer, and wondering how long hell be able to sing Sweet Home Chicago and really mean it.

(The White Sox) might call tomorrow, they might call in the middle of the season , they might never call. Thats very possible, Konerko said. And if that happens, fine thats great. Weve had a great run here.

Its a run that has produced 319 homers, 1,016 RBI, and countless moments forever stapled in the memory banks of every White Sox fan from Bridgeport to Beverly, Frankfort to Flossmoor. But father time in baseball time is catching up to Paul, and hes not sure how much time, or how many hits hes got left.

Every year it seems like less, but I dont know. I think Im definitely more of a year too early guy than a year too late guy in my overall demeanor, I think. Having said that, Ill be 34 next week. Even if everything went good, I dont know. A few more years at the most?

But Pauls baseball future might not be in his control. Just ask Jermaine Dye, who told Konerko towards the end of last season that if he didnt get a fair offer in the offseason, he was prepared to retire at 36.

Paul might find himself in the same boat at 35.

Im happy to not go play. Ill maybe go during (next) season if someone asks me, but Im content with that. I would say that would probably be my mindset, where Im not going to force something if its not there.

Speaking with Ozzie Guillen about the Konerko conundrum on Friday, Guillen told CSN Im going to tell Konerko to have a great year and then make us have a headache. Thats easy. If P.K. has a great year, make Jerry(Reinsdorf) and Kenny (Williams) worry about it. Dont make me worry about it.

If Paul has the kind of year he had in 2009, Ozzie wont have to.

Konerko led the White Sox with 28 home runs and 88 RBI. Even though it might have been his seventh or eighth best season statistically, Paul said that 2009 is in the top three of his White Sox career.

The game was probably about as easy to play last year as it has ever been for me, and I want to keep building off of that.

If he doesnt, then one of the biggest pieces of this legendary band will likely be gone for good.

Jake without Elwood. The 2005 Sox without their big toe.

And then theres A.J. Pierzynski and his expiring contract.

There could be some pretty big shoes to fill.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

The White Sox will battle the Oakland Athletics today, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:05 p.m.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Kendall Graveman

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White Sox ace Jose Quintana puts on a show in victory over Reds

White Sox ace Jose Quintana puts on a show in victory over Reds

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Those pesky, persistent trade rumors continue to be no match for White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana. 

The 2016 All-Star was outstanding on Thursday afternoon as he made his first Cactus League appearance in nearly a month. Still waiting on word if he'll be the team's Opening Day starter, Quintana pitched seven scoreless innings against a thin Cincinnati Reds lineup in a 4-2 White Sox victory at Camelback Ranch. 

Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts, Quintana limited Cincinnati to two hits in a 79-pitch outing and struck out three.

"I just try to turn the page quick and keep going," Quintana said. "Never watch behind me and try to go ahead every time I can. I want to put my team in a good position to win games. It's good when you win games in spring training. It brings good energy for the season."

Quintana on Thursday followed the same format he did for Colombia against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Reds hitters he faced. Even after he surrendered a hit, Quintana got back to work. Featuring a fastball that sat between 91-93 mph early, Quintana had Cincinnati hitters off-balance all day. After he exited the game, Quintana sprinted to the right-field bullpen to throw 15 more pitches as he continues to build arm strength.

The outing is more of the same consistency the White Sox have come to expect from their trusted lefty. It's also why they refuse to remove the high sticker price attached to Quintana, who has competed at least 200 innings the past four seasons with a 3.32 overall ERA in that span.

As Opening Day approaches, the White Sox continue to listen to offers for Quintana but have refused to budge on their price. Manager Rick Renteria said on Wednesday he needed a few more days before naming his starter for the April 3 opener, which suggests the team would still trade Quintana at this late date. But unless one of the team's suitors finally antes up, it's hard to believe that anyone other than Quintana would take the mound against the Detroit Tigers when the 2017 season kicks off at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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Quintana is on target to pitch again Tuesday, though perhaps in a minor league game as the White Sox face Kansas City that day. His next turn would come on April 2, which would easily afford the team the chance to push him back one day. 

Giving Quintana the nod in the opener would be the latest honor bestowed upon him. Earlier this month, Quintana dominated the eventual WBC champion as he didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth inning. That performance came after an outstanding campaign in which Quintana finally appeared in an All-Star Game.

All of the above has Quintana feeling pretty good about his abilities. 

"I have confidence in me, and every time I go out there I just try to have fun and enjoy that time," Quintana said. "I spend good time with my teammates. Every time I go to the mound, I feel pretty good."

Nicky Delmonico homered and singled in a run in the victory for the White Sox. He drove in three runs and hit his third homer of the spring. Leury Garcia also had two hits and made a pair of nice defensive plays at second base.