Sox Drawer: Is This the Konerko Countdown?

Sox Drawer: Is This the Konerko Countdown?
February 27, 2010, 2:15 am
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Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
7:40 PM
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Glendale, Ariz - In the movie The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood go around Chicago famously trying to put the band back together.

Since 2005, weve been watching another famous Chicago band slowly break apart. Once upon a time, they were belting out Dont Stop Believin. Nowadays, theyre singing a different Journey tune.

Separate Ways.

Rowand. Podsednik. Dye. There goes the horn section.

Crede. Garland. Uribe. The rhythm section is gone too.

And after this season, this former Sox supergroup could be losing its lead singer.

Paul Konerko.

For 11 seasons, the Sox captain has been the rock inside the clubhouse. The man who famously gave Jerry Reinsdorf the baseball that clinched the 2005 World Series, which probably also clinched the five-year, 60 million contract Konerko signed soon after.

But here we are, coming up on five years later, and Paul arrived at camp on Friday a little older, a little grayer, and wondering how long hell be able to sing Sweet Home Chicago and really mean it.

(The White Sox) might call tomorrow, they might call in the middle of the season , they might never call. Thats very possible, Konerko said. And if that happens, fine thats great. Weve had a great run here.

Its a run that has produced 319 homers, 1,016 RBI, and countless moments forever stapled in the memory banks of every White Sox fan from Bridgeport to Beverly, Frankfort to Flossmoor. But father time in baseball time is catching up to Paul, and hes not sure how much time, or how many hits hes got left.

Every year it seems like less, but I dont know. I think Im definitely more of a year too early guy than a year too late guy in my overall demeanor, I think. Having said that, Ill be 34 next week. Even if everything went good, I dont know. A few more years at the most?

But Pauls baseball future might not be in his control. Just ask Jermaine Dye, who told Konerko towards the end of last season that if he didnt get a fair offer in the offseason, he was prepared to retire at 36.

Paul might find himself in the same boat at 35.

Im happy to not go play. Ill maybe go during (next) season if someone asks me, but Im content with that. I would say that would probably be my mindset, where Im not going to force something if its not there.

Speaking with Ozzie Guillen about the Konerko conundrum on Friday, Guillen told CSN Im going to tell Konerko to have a great year and then make us have a headache. Thats easy. If P.K. has a great year, make Jerry(Reinsdorf) and Kenny (Williams) worry about it. Dont make me worry about it.

If Paul has the kind of year he had in 2009, Ozzie wont have to.

Konerko led the White Sox with 28 home runs and 88 RBI. Even though it might have been his seventh or eighth best season statistically, Paul said that 2009 is in the top three of his White Sox career.

The game was probably about as easy to play last year as it has ever been for me, and I want to keep building off of that.

If he doesnt, then one of the biggest pieces of this legendary band will likely be gone for good.

Jake without Elwood. The 2005 Sox without their big toe.

And then theres A.J. Pierzynski and his expiring contract.

There could be some pretty big shoes to fill.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.