Konerko tabs Tigers as favorites

At 37, Paul Konerko knows staying healthy will play a major role in his productivity. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Tempe, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko believes the favorites to win the American League are the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit edged out the Chicago White Sox in 2012 to win the AL Central and went on to win the pennant before losing to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.The Tigers trailed the Sox by three games with two weeks left in the season.

"They should be the favorite to win the American League again," Konerko said "They added to their team (Torii Hunter) and really didn't lose anyone.

"They have earned that. Until someone takes it away from them, they are the team to beat."

Konerko, entering the last season of a three-year contract, believes his team will be competitive.

"As a player you are aware of all that stuff but your aren't consumed by it," he said. "I don't think we even play the Tigers until summer (July 9). We will deal with them when we get them. We know that they are a good team but we have to take care of beating the other teams first."

Putting last season behind them will be the first order of business for this White Sox team, according to their captain.

"When you look at last year as a whole year, not just the last couple of weeks that contributed to the final result, you look back and see we got beat two out of three at home by the Houston Astros," Konerko said. "Right there you have a couple of games you would definitely want at the end. This is what you look at as a player, but I know from the fan or media perspective it is a lot easier to look at the last couple of weeks because it is more sensationalized to look at it that way."

Konerko has no idea how many games he will play in 2013. The 37-year-old worked hard on an extensive conditioning regiment in the offseason.

"I think every year you work a little harder," he said. "You get to this point and you understand it will be a tougher road. This season like every year you want to have a solid season. You know there will be things in your way and problems you deal with."

Entering his 15th season with the White Sox, Konerko knows good health could determine the quality of his year and influence how much longer he plays.

"When you are a young player and hear aging guys complain about pain or injuries you kind of say to yourself, ‘That won't happen to me.' It does," Konerko said, "though at this point I can go out there and take a ground ball the wrong way and my back can hurt for three days.

"The nice thing is now I am not holding back or saving anything. If I blow out and I play games when I am hurt and it feels like my career could end if I go out and try something -- big deal. At this point I will give it a run because what am I going to save it for."

Konerko is second on the White Sox all-time in home runs with 415 and in RBIs with 1,307.