GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko is pretty certain he won’t have any feelings of nostalgia creep into his mind during his last spring training.
While he can’t say the same for the rest of his final season, the White Sox captain all but assured a media throng he wouldn’t ever miss spring training.
Konerko, who has announced his retirement effective at the end of 2014, plans to go about this final camp at the same thorough pace he has in each of the 19 that preceded it. No matter how limited his role shall be this season Konerko doesn’t want to alter the methods that have brought him this far.
“Unless they back me off something and say, ‘Hey, you don’t need to do that,’ it seems to me it’s just much easier to get ready,” Konerko said. “I know how to get ready…I know what it takes to get ready for Opening Day. I’ll just plan on doing that. If that’s overshooting it a little bit and we back off of it, that’s fine. I’d rather take that approach than to come in and get into bad habits of not working or knowing I’m going to play the field a lot less. I want to be ready when the time comes.”
Konerko knows he won’t see the field as much as he has in previous seasons.
Jose Abreu will be the everyday starter and for Konerko and Adam Dunn will share time at designated hitter with Dunn playing a higher percentage of games. Konerko isn’t concerned about playing time and just wants to be at manager Robin Ventura’s disposal.
He’s excited to take on the mentor role and wants to see how several young players develop. Already, Konerko hit with Adam Eaton in the offseason and he thinks both Eaton and Avisail Garcia have bright futures ahead. Konerko complimented Eaton’s athleticism and his ability to hit and believes Garcia could be a “monster” with 40-home run potential. He hopes to lend a hand by further establishing how a talented young roster carries itself every day.
“Four years from now, if this team is a good team year in and year out…to know I had a hand in that to help some of these guys along that will make me feel good when I’m playing golf somewhere,” Konerko said.
The rookies won’t be the only youngsters around the team in 2014.
Konerko, who turns 38 in March, said last year if he returned in 2014, he wanted his children to spend more time around the club. Already, his kids have been clamoring for trips to see him play, especially during the school year.
“They know it gets them out of school if they go places,” Konerko said. “They are already angling and plotting for places to go. The boys are old enough now to know. My older boy is old enough now to look at the schedule and know if he gets to go to a certain city it’s during school. If I say yes, he’s out of school. They’re smart.”
Given the chance, Konerko would do the same with spring training. It’s one aspect of the sport he won’t miss.
“There will probably be some moments where you’re a little bit sad about something you’re not going to get to do again, but spring training is not going to be one of them,” Konerko said.