Konerko moved past Thomas on the White Sox’s all-time hit list Friday, collecting No. 2,137 on an RBI single in the fourth inning.
Modest despite his accomplishments, Konerko not only tried to deflect the attention that came with the mere mention of him in the same company as Thomas, he went out of his way to explain why Thomas is more accomplished.
“I think No. 1 is just being out there a lot and showing up to play,” Konerko said if his spot on the club’s hit list. “I'm proud of that. But some of that stuff can get skewed a little bit. I don't know what the at-bats are, I think I played longer here than he did maybe by a little bit now. He walked so much because guys were afraid of him, so he had less at-bats to actually swing the bat.
“So there are things you factor into it, but it's cool nonetheless, any time you get mentioned with a guy that's going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer here soon.”
A check of the record books shows that Thomas played in 16 seasons with the White Sox, with 8,603 plate appearances and 6,956 official at-bats. Konerko is in his 15th season with the White Sox and has 8,526 plate appearances with the club and 7,506 official at-bats heading into play Saturday.
Konerko does trail Thomas in home runs, RBI, doubles and runs scored so his praise of Thomas isn’t just lip service. With 33 more home runs, though, he will match Thomas’ franchise-best mark of 448.
Call Konerko’s recipe for success simple, yet difficult.
“Obviously, the biggest key for any hitter is trying to be as disciplined as you can to the work every day coming in here,” he said. “It sounds easy, but it's hard to come in every day year after year and keep doing it, get your work in the right way. And to go out there and compete, that's basically it.”
For manager Robin Ventura, having a hard worker who delivers results makes his job that much easier.
“When you have a guy like him people see what he’s doing,” Ventura said. “He’s always been like that. He is a leader. He doesn’t have to scream. He does it by example. If he has something to say he’ll say it, but most of it is by example.”