Will this be Konerko's last Opening Day?

April, 1, 2013
4/01/13
12:59
AM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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To everything there is a season. To every baseball career there is a final curtain call.

Though he has repeatedly said he will decide on his future after the 2013 season, Chicago White Sox icon Paul Konerko may be making his last Opening Day start.

The team’s 36-year-old captain is entering his 15th year in the organization and last on a three-year contract he signed before the 2011 season.

Reflecting on a possible farewell will flash through the veteran first baseman’s thoughts Monday afternoon.

“I am certainly aware of it,” he told ESPNChicago.com. “It will cross my mind. After all, you are only human and you are going to have those thoughts. I have always been good about stopping those thoughts right there. I remind myself I have a job to do just like all of my teammates -- that is, to help this team win.”

“Again, you will think about it every now and again,” he said, “but when it comes to playing a game and you have a job to do, you can’t let that creep in. It doesn’t help; it can only hurt you.”

Konerko, whose 415 home runs and 1,307 RBIs are second only to Frank Thomas on the club’s all-time leaderboard, and the Sox faithful have had a long love affair anchored on mutual respect. A big part of that relationship is based on the fact he is the only member of the 2005 world championship team on this season’s roster.

“You have to earn their respect,” Konerko said of the fan base. “They are pretty smart baseball fans . I think they know when a guy is out there giving everything he has. They know the difference between that and that not being the case.

“The fans I have talked to seem to understand the nuances of the game more so than the average crowd,” he said. “We have to prove to them every year we are worthy of their respect.

“It is never a bad thing to prove to fans they should come out.”

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208