CHICAGO – Until Paul Konerko starts seeing teammates ushered off to new teams in trade-deadline deals, the Chicago White Sox captain won’t consider his own status because he is a player with no-trade privileges.
Konerko’s immediate focus is with a bad back that has kept him out of action since Sunday at Kansas City.
“I’m just trying to get back on the field,” Konerko said Saturday. “I don’t know many teams that are going to want a guy who can’t play. Until I get back out there and start doing some things, that’s off in the distance.”
That certainly doesn’t sound like a guy who has completely rejected the idea of moving on from a team whose uniform he has worn for 15 seasons and is one of the most beloved players in franchise history.
“You learn the business, and you learn when all that stuff goes down,” Konerko said. “You do see some moves sometimes really early. Nothing really happens. Usually, nothing happens as much as you think it’s going to happen, and when it does happen, it’s very close to the end. So you are talking almost a month from now.”
The White Sox are reportedly going over trade options for some of their players as a disappointing season has left them well behind front-office expectations. Players like reliever Jesse Crain and outfielder Alex Rios could have value, or even pitcher Jake Peavy, if he can return from a rib injury in time.
Konerko could also draw some interest not only because of his power bat and a track record of steady offensive production but also because his contract expires at the end of the season and he wouldn’t require too much of a financial commitment.
But as a player with at least 10 seasons in the league and five with the same team, he has the right to veto any deal. As a resident of the Phoenix area during the offseason, Konerko might limit himself to West Coast options. During his runs in free agency he seemed to have interest in teams west of the Rocky Mountains before ultimately returning to Chicago.
“I’ve got enough to worry about,” Konerko said. “We’ve got enough to worry about. It just gets ingrained in you as you go. You just I don’t want to say you don’t have any control over it, because as a team and as a player you do have control of playing well to make things better and maybe stop things from happening. But you do and you don’t.
“You go out on the field and do the best you can, and that’s all you can really do. The guys upstairs, that’s what they get paid to do and make those decisions. You kind of have to throw your hands up at that kind of stuff. I think everybody in here, whatever comes down the road, we have a handle.”
After getting six pain-killing injections in his lower back Friday, Konerko now believes he can avoid a stint on the disabled list. He has missed the past four games and might not be ready to get back on the field until Tuesday.
“There was no sharp pain or anything making me afraid to take a swing,” Konerko said. “I was a little stiff and heavy but, obviously, I hadn’t picked up a bat since Sunday. You always feel a little awkward not touching a bat in five days. It wasn’t a stellar performance or anything but enough to where I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
That light at the end of the July 31 non-waiver, trade-deadline tunnel is another matter.
“This isn’t life-ending or life-threatening situations,” Konerko said. “You go out there and give it everything you got, but at the end of the day, all you can do is your best. If things go that way and they start doing all that stuff, you deal with it. If not, move on from there.”