Paul Konerko brings out fan base

May, 11, 2013
5/11/13
6:39
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Chicago -- At a time when wins and fans have been hard to come by, the Chicago White Sox can always count on the iconic Paul Konerko to bring the people out in force. Saturday was Paul Konerko bobblehead night, adding an extra five thousand tickets sold. The Arizona native (by way of New Jersey) is the last player remaining from the 2005 world championship team.

The 37-year-old first baseman/DH has had a little time to be introspective in the later years of his career. "I do think about it here and there,” Konerko said. “I think any human being thinks about their life as it is going by. There has to be a balance between those thoughts and what you have to do to prepare on any given day. I am aware that I have been here a long time and performing for the fans here.”

Konerko, like many of his teammates, is off to a slow start (.218 AVG/4 HR/16 RBI) to what could be his final season in the Windy City. The Sox star player is in the last of a three-year contract he signed in December 2010.

“It is kind of weird to look at yourself like the players you watched play for one team for a long time," he said. “When you begin your career, you never think that is really possible. You thought some players would stay in one city for a long time, but you never considered that it would be you.”

The Sox fan favorite was traded to Chicago in November 1998 for Mike Cameron. He took on the leadership role of team captain in 2005. Konerko retains no-trade protection because of his 10-5 contract status. He is not sure if he would accept a trade or not if the team is out of contention before the trading deadline.

“I want to do what is right,“ he said. “I am not sure talking to you today what that is, but I think I will know when I am faced with it. At that time, like all big decisions in your personal or professional life, you gather as much information as you possibly can and make the best decision you can at that moment.”

Regardless of whether or not Konerko stays beyond this season, his legacy in Chicago is assured. A formal uniform retirement and statue tribute are an absolute lock, according to a White Sox source.

“I don’t know what to expect when that [the end of his career] comes down the line," he said. “I don’t know where my feelings will be at with all that kind of stuff. Right now I am playing the game and trying to get after it like I did 10 years [ago]. Those thoughts about the future and what it will mean are no help to me now.”

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
John Danks
WINS ERA SO IP
8 3.99 83 119
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .292
HRJ. Abreu 29
RBIJ. Abreu 73
RJ. Abreu 49
OPSJ. Abreu .972
ERAC. Sale 2.08
SOJ. Quintana 107