For the first time in his 16-year career with the White Sox, Paul Konerko brought his parents into the Chicago deep freeze for SoxFest this weekend. His whole family was in attendance for the annual fan convention as White Sox fans begin their sendoff for the longtime slugger.
But Konerko's experience over the weekend wasn't different for just having his family around. His interactions with fans, too, were different without nagging questions about his future.
"I've been getting asked about this since 2012, so that's a long time — talking about two years of that nonsense, every conversation it seems like 'are you going to stay, are you going to go,' it just gets old," Konerko said. "So if something comes up you can just be genuine with them and say, 'Come out and see me, I won't be back next year.'"
Konerko's final year in the majors wouldn't have come with any team other than the White Sox, either. In fact, taking a reduced role was part of the reason why Konerko returned to the White Sox. He's more than OK with backing up Adam Dunn and Jose Abreu while being a mentor to the team's young players.
After 15 years with the organization, in which Konerko won three AL Central titles and a World Series, he said going to another team — even one that could've offered him a starting role and a shot at another ring — wasn't an option.
"(That) wasn't what I was after, it wasn't going to make me any happier," Konerko said. "But if I come here, finish it out correctly, help guys get going in the right direction a year from now, 10 months from now — this organization is already starting to move in the right direction from last year. (If it) kind of takes a step forward and does well and I know I was a part of that, I'll feel better than if I would have joined another team and rode along with them to the playoffs or something."