Though the matchup doesn’t call for it, the White Sox are considering starting Paul Konerko on Opening Day. But it’s not because the team’s captain has lobbied for a 16th straight Opening Day start.
As special as the opener is, Konerko, who is headed into his 16th and final season with the White Sox, said he has experienced the spectacle plenty. Minnesota, the team’s opponent for Mondays’ 3:10 p.m opener, has named right-hander Ricky Nolasco as its starter, which would seem to exclude Konerko from playing according to the team’s plan. But perhaps with nostalgia in mind, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said earlier this week he’s considering giving Konerko one last Opening Day start even though the first baseman doesn’t want politics to play an issue.
“The main thing is the game is what matters because it counts and you want to get going right off the bat,” Konerko said. “But whatever the plan is, that’s when it starts. There are no personal issues that should come into play, is my point, so I don’t want mine to come in.”
The White Sox made it clear over the winter that Jose Abreu is their everyday starting first baseman and Adam Dunn and Konerko would divide the rest of the at-bats. But Konerko is expected to be play a lesser role on the field than Dann as the White Sox invited him back to face select left-handed pitchers with an emphasis being placed on his leadership within the clubhouse.
Though White Sox intend to execute their plan they may be willing to make a concession for one day. After all, Konerko is thought highly enough of that the White Sox wanted him back even though Dunn has appeared in at least 149 games in four of five seasons and Abreu is seen as their future.
Ventura didn’t go into much detail on the topic but did suggest it could happen.
“Possibly,” Ventura said. “It’s a possibility. We are thinking about that.”
There won’t be any lobbying by Konerko.
He’s all about the process and wants a White Sox win to be the top priority, not him. So while playing would be another enjoyable experience because its opening day, Konerko isn’t preoccupied. He spent the last few days of camp thinking about what he needed to get done instead of the week ahead.
“Doesn’t matter,” Konerko said when asked if he wants to play. “A plan’s a plan. Between LA and here, I have probably 15, 16 of them, so I know what it feels like. … It’s not really meaningful to me. It’s meaningful as I’m doing it, but whether it’s 15 or 16 or 16 turns into 17, does it really matter? No.”