Paul Konerko doesn't want a Mariano Rivera-style victory lap, with teams bestowing gifts upon him every time he visits a stadium for the final time. But Konerko, who retire at the end of his 18th season in the majors this year, nevertheless appreciated the gift given to him by the Cubs prior to Tuesday's game at Wrigley Field.
Konerko was presented with a green No. 14 placard from Wrigley Field's scoreboard by Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija, and received a standing ovation from fans wearing both blue and black on Clark and Addison.
“I mean that was cool, classy move by them," Konerko said Wednesday. "I mean, I certainly didn’t expect it and it’s really cool that they gave me it. That’ll definitely go up in the house somewhere."
Konerko pinch hit in Monday night's game at Wrigley Field, which'll stand as his final appearance on the North Side. In 130 plate appearances spanning 35 games at Wrigley Field, Konerko hit .311 with seven home runs and an .883 OPS.
Konerko appreciated getting the gift from Samardzija, too, even if he did take a pitch to the face from the right-hander two years ago at Wrigley Field.
"I like Jeff," Konerko said. "He’s a good guy. He’s doing great. I’m a fan of his as far as the way he pitches and he’s aggressive out there and he swings the bat well on top of it. I don’t know him well, I’ve met him a few times off the field but you know his teammates really like him and he’s respected over there. The guys that are with him every day, they’re not going to be wrong on that stuff.
"It was kind of fitting that he gave it to me and he’s doing great right now. Good for him.”
Samardzija, too, jumped at the opportunity to praise Konerko and recalled how bad he felt about hitting him in 2012.
"When the whole thing went down when I hit him, the first thing I said was the worst guy it could happen to because I respect him more than anyone in the game," Samardzija said. "You talk about losing two guys like (Derek) Jeter and Konerko, that’s tough. It’s bad for the game. We love to see those guys and how long they played and we’d love to see them keep playing. Outstanding man and hopefully he has a strong year to end it and enjoys it too. (I hope) he really enjoys the run he had and soaks it all in for sure.”