Sox Drawer: What rhymes with MVP? Paulie!

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Sox Drawer: What rhymes with MVP? Paulie!

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010
6:33 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Somewhere in the state of Ohio lies a baseball tuckered out after traveling a far distance. It started the day buried anonymously in a sack with a dozen other balls, all set to be used, all with different fates.

Some would stay fair. Others would go foul. But this one had another destination in mind: Lake Erie.

Unfortunately, it didnt make it that far. A few fans got in the way. But if the man who tried to put it there keeps it up, the ball might end up representing something bigger.

The start of an MVP campaign.

For the last few weeks, Paul Konerkos name has casually been mentioned as a candidate for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, up there with Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. But lets be honest, he was a country mile away from getting enough votes to actually win it.

Not anymore.

With the national media tuned in to watch Manny Ramirez make his White Sox debut on Wednesday, there was Konerko doing what hes done all season, blasting a massive three-run bomb in the eighth inning, giving the Sox a thrilling come-from-behind, 6-4 win over the Indians.

Its a captain whos been driving a car with his clutch stuck on clutch all season, and its time the rest of the country knew about it.

Youre excused if you happened to ignore Paulies red-hot April, when he quietly belted 11 home runs to lead the majors. At 34 years old, and in the twilight of his career, who actually thought he was on the verge of an MVP season?

I didnt.You didnt. Konerko probably didnt either.

But game-after-game, week-after-week, the prolonged slumps that have traditionally dogged Konerko in his career have yet to arrive. He just keeps raking, and considering hes in a contract year, hell soon be raking in something else. Tons and tons of dough. But thats a subject for another day.

This is about a mans quest for an MVP award, and here are some numbers to back it up.

Lets start with his home runs which are starting to reach Roy Hobbs Hollywood-type proportions. Of his 33 homers, which is currently second in the American League, 12 have been hit in the eighth inning or later. Three have tied the game. NINE have given the White Sox the lead. Konerko has also helped the Sox breathe a little easier, as four of his home runs have occurred with his team ahead by one.

But its not just when Konerko has been hitting, its who hes been hitting against. Here are the top teams on the White Sox schedule. Has Konerko been there for his team? You bet.

vs. the Twins .390 4 HRs 12 RBIs
vs. the Yankees .400 3 HRs 10 RBIs
vs. the Rangers .344 4 HRs 11 RBIs
vs. the Rays .308 1 HR 3 RBIs
vs. the Braves .417 1 HR 3 RBIs

Throw in the Crosstown Series against the Cubs, which is a playoff-type atmosphere no matter how bad one of the teams might be, Konerko batted .333 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs.

Have you heard about the dog days of August in baseball? Konerko hasnt this year. He just completed the month batting .387. Thats number-one in the major leagues.

And how did he start September? See the top of this very page.

A couple weeks ago, Konerkos season numbers paled in comparison to his toughest competitors, but hes quickly closing the gap:

Konerko .319 33 HR 98 RBI
Hamilton .361 31 HR 97 RBI
Cabrera .340 33 HR 107 RBI
Cano .325 26 HR 90 RBI

In the end, itll come down to those in contention at the end. So you can take Cabreras name off the list. The Tigers are going nowhere. Robinson Cano has had a great season with the Yankees, but lets see if someone from New York can build a case for him thats stronger than Konerkos. You can try, but you'll inevitably fail.

That leaves Hamilton, who has put the Texas Rangers on his back and has kept them in first for weeks. Hes currently in the lead. But if this was a golf tournament, he and Konerko still have a few holes to play. A lot can happen, and watching Paulie all season, you can bet that something will.

My job is a sportscaster. I write with my ABCs. Konerko plays baseball. He's my MVP.

White Sox reinstate Avisail Garcia from DL, option Jason Coats

White Sox reinstate Avisail Garcia from DL, option Jason Coats

The White Sox announced on Tuesday they have reinstated outfielder Avisail Garcia from the 15-day disabled list and optioned outfielder Jason Coats to Triple-A Charlotte.

Garcia, who landed on the DL on Aug. 9 with a sprained right knee, was 5-13 with a home run and four RBI in three games during a rehab assignment with Charlotte.

The 25-year-old Garcia has a .240/.309/.378 slash line with nine home runs and 36 RBI in 86 games with the White Sox this season.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

In three stints with the White Sox this season,  Coats has a .189/.318/.324 slash line with one home run and three RBI.

The White Sox open a two-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday evening.

Kenny Williams on White Sox: 'We'll get it together'

Kenny Williams on White Sox: 'We'll get it together'

After starting off the season on a high note, the White Sox haven't had things go their way since then.

The White Sox went from being one of the top teams in the league toward the beginning of the season to, currently, No. 20 in our latest MLB Power Rankings.

White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams commented on the year and what went wrong.

"We've got to get some things together," Williams said on Monday at the Field of Greens golf outing. "As everyone knows by now, we started off very well. Unfortunately things kind of unraveled and we lost some key members of our bullpen which didn't help and kind of spear-headed that unraveling.

"But we'll get it together and come out of this swinging."

See what else Williams had to say in the video above.

White Sox: Alex Avila will begin rehab assignment Monday in Triple-A

White Sox: Alex Avila will begin rehab assignment Monday in Triple-A

Alex Avila will begin his rehab assignment on Monday night in Triple-A Charlotte.

The White Sox catcher has been on the disabled list with a right hamstring injury since July 6.

Avila went out for a rehab assignment on July 20 but suffered a setback.

“I probably tried to rush back a little too quick and wasn’t ready,” Avila said. “It's frustrating. I’d like to be back, but you have to let nature take its course."

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

In late April, Avila landed on the 15-day DL with the same injury while running the bases in a home game against the Texas Rangers.

Avila signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the White Sox in the offseason.