Robin Ventura thinks Paul Konerko’s line in the box score won’t do his contribution to Wednesday’s victory justice.
Though Konerko was on the field for all of one pitch, his pinch-hit single in his 2014 debut was a catalyst in a 7-6 White Sox win in 11 innings over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
Konerko ripped the first pitch he saw from Minnesota closer Glen Perkins off of third base for a single and was replaced by pinch runner Adrian Nieto, who made his major league debut. The White Sox scored twice off Perkins and won in the 11th inning when Leury Garcia scored on a wild pitch.
“Not an easy spot to get in right there, but he’s prepared to do that,” Ventura said. “There’s going to be enjoyment that comes from that. (Konerko) sparked that last inning to be able to do that and do it in the first inning he’s in this season — that’s a big thing in this clubhouse when he goes up there and does stuff like that.”
The plan calls for Konerko only to start against select left-handed pitchers and to come off the bench. An everyday player for his entire career, Konerko has said the day-to-day role will take some adjusting but he has an idea how he wants to handle the transition. Though he has played in the majors since 1998, Wednesday’s was only the 65th pinch-hit plate appearance of Konerko’s career.
“It felt OK,” Konerko said. “I just wanted to be aggressive and not go up there free swinging, but try to make a decision on the pitch, but don’t be tentative, either. Just trying to get the routines down during the game, which will take a little bit of time. But I’ve talked to some people and kind of have an idea. I have to do what’s best for me, but I think there is a right way to get ready during a game. Just trying to get comfortable with that. It’ll take a little time, but at the end of the day, I’ve had a million at-bats. You get in the box and get after it.”