If Paul Konerko has any reservations about his new player/coach role they haven’t yet surfaced.
The veteran first baseman has spent the past two days at the White Sox mini-hitters camp at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. working with the team’s young players.
Konerko, who in December re-signed for a 16th and final season with the club, agreed to return in a limited role on the field for the White Sox while making a larger impact in the clubhouse.
After speaking with enthusiasm about his new responsibilities on several occasions, Konerko has put it on display this week with his rookie teammates.
“It’s great,” White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said. “I look at him as another coach, a guy that really has a lot of knowledge that you can talk to him and soak it up.”
Rookie Matt Davidson has had a similar experience. Davidson, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Addison Reed this offseason, has noticed how approachable Konerko has been.
“He’s an awesome guy,” Davidson said. “Really down to earth. He’s out here and showing us that he wants to help us out, so it’s really cool to have him around.”
With newcomer Jose Abreu expected to handle the bulk of the duties at first and Adam Dunn playing against right-handed pitchers, Konerko expects his time on the field to be reduced significantly.
But he’s OK with the role and hopes to take advantage of less playing time.
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“I would love to help some of these younger guys that have talent and be there for those guys,” Konerko said last month. “I’m hoping that with the lack of playing this year, there are moments where I have the energy to teach guys things they don’t know.”
Eaton, who was also acquired from Arizona in a three-team deal that sent Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels, looks forward to that additional time. So far he hasn’t shied away from the chance to talk to the team’s captain.
“It’s nice to have breakfast with him in the morning and pick up anything you can from the guy,” Eaton said. “The knowledge is endless.”