Paul Konerko has spent 15 previous Aprils and Mays playing in Chicago and he’s still not accustomed to the cold weather.
“It sucks,” Konerko said with a smile earlier this week. “There’s no other way to describe it.”
So some of the first advice Konerko plans to offer new White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu this week will be how the Cuban can attempt to combat the cold weather awaiting the team’s return to U.S. Cellular Field. Per The Weather Channel, the Monday’s forecast for the season opener is partly cloudy and 55 degrees. The temperature is expected to drop to 37 and 40 degrees with a heavy chance of rain on both Wednesday and Thursday. Those aren’t the easiest conditions after the White Sox spent the last month playing in 80-degree temperatures in Phoenix.
“There’s no good thing about cold weather at all,” Konerko said. “Baseball’s not meant to be played in cold weather. … It’s not hit or miss, because it just seems like it’s been miss. You just have to get through. I always feel like April and May, those are the tough times.”
The average annual temperature in Havana, Cuba in April and May is 76 and 79 degrees, respectively. Chicago is 59 degrees in April and 70 in May.
Abreu told reporters earlier this week he expects the conditions to be unlike anything he has previously played in. But he also said he isn’t going to let it be an excuse because other players have played in similar conditions for years.
“If other people, all the Cubans, all the Latin players, other players can do it, I don’t think it will be a problem for me,” Abreu said through a translator.
Abreu said he hasn’t yet asked countrymen Dayan Viciedo or Alexei Ramirez how they deal with the cold. Konerko noted that he makes a point of remembering that both teams have to deal with the conditions and that helps some. But he also has to alter his approach some to combat the cold in the early months.
“You can’t try to get big,” Konerko said. “Resist the urge to try to get big early. Just try to scrape by. If you pop out a few that’s great, and then when it gets hot, that’s when you want to make hay and really then you take some chances. There are a lot of balls that can get knocked down. There are days it will go and with some of these guys it’s not going to matter where they hit it, but it can get frustrating sometimes putting balls up in the air deep to like center field, left-center that don’t go. … You really have to dial in. It’s way tougher mentally, there’s no doubt about that. You just have to really dial in and you’ve got to want it.”