Health has affected Paul Konerko this season, but Robin Ventura can still see plenty of value in the veteran’s at-bats.
Konerko played one game between June 23 and July 22 as he dealt with a serious lower back strain. Though it took some time to get his swing back in shape, Konerko has fared well over the last week. He’s 7-for-23 (.304) with two homers and five RBIs.
The back injury marked only the third time in Konerko’s career he was placed on the disabled list, which has led some to question whether or not he’ll retire at the end of the season. Konerko is in the final year of a three-year contract and has said he won’t make a decision about 2014 until the end of this season.
“He’s not going to play for another 10 years,” Ventura said. “That much everybody knows. How much he plays longer than this season is really up to him. He’s had spurts where it’s good and injuries and things that there have been periods where it is slowed him down. That’s natural for everyone when you get to a point in your career that he’s at right now. Ultimately he’s the guy who has to figure that out and decide.”
Even though Konerko’s bat speed has slowed, Ventura likes how the first baseman/designated hitter can adjust. The only discussions Ventura said he and Konerko have had about the future were at the start of the season when they discussed how to manage the franchise’s No. 2 home run hitter to ensure he had enough energy for September.
“Health stuff,” Ventura said. “It was more of that than how long he would play.
"Their bat speed is not going to be the way it was when they were 25. It’s just the way it is. You can still see the way he has at-bats like he did yesterday. He does have good at-bats and is able to adjust and make up for it.”
Gordon Beckham hit second on Sunday, a day after he hit leadoff for the second time this season. Alexei Ramirez hit in the third spot for the fourth time this season.
With one of his anchors traded on Friday when Alex Rios was shipped to Texas, Ventura plans to mix and match his team’s lineup the rest of the way to see what might work for next season.
Beckham has now hit in every spot in the order except third and fourth.
“You can mess with the lineup a little bit more now,” Ventura said. “Even with Alexei kind of being in the three hole the last few days, you can put Gordon, he led off yesterday. There’s times to kind of move guys around and see what fits.”
-- Dayan Viciedo sat out Sunday’s game with a sore thumb, the fourth game he has sat out since he left Monday’s contest after landing on it after he dove. Viciedo has played twice since he sustained the injury: on Wednesday and in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.
-- Alexei Ramirez brought a seven-game hitting streak into Sunday’s contest. The shortstop is 14-for-34 (.412) with two home runs, seven RBIs and five runs in the span.
-- U.S. Cellular Field will host ESPN’s Friday Night Fights on Friday. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the U.S. Cellular Field box office.