The team captain finally seems to be adapting to his role as a part-time player. While he struggled with a 1-for-17 start at the plate, his ability to turn things around before the season is even a month old is remarkable in the grand scheme of things.
With hits in his first two at-bats Saturday, Konerko was on a run where he had six hits and a walk over his last nine plate appearances, although he was then retired in his last two at-bats.
When he first found out the Tampa Bay Rays would be going with left handers Cesar Ramos and David Price on back-to-back days in the series, Konerko figured a couple of starts might have been in the works.
“I always assume if there's a lefty throwing I'm going to be in there, but I don't shut down for a righty,” Konerko said. “I knew it was going to be back-to-back lefties a few days ago, so I knew what was in store. It's pretty easy just to get ready to play, if you come in you're not in, you shut it down and your thoughts turn to coming in later in the game, it's really not that difficult. But you gotta start off by preparing to start the game, because it's always more difficult to go from a dead stop to being in there.”
Konerko has seven hits this season in 14 games, but just one extra-base hit. In fact, it seems as if he has shortened his swing in order to start getting the ball in play more, rather than employing a bigger swing that could leave him exposed to strikeouts.
While not denying that his swing could be little more compact, that wasn’t necessarily his primary goal.
“I've hit a lot of good balls that I can draw back from and you just keep working until you get a feel for that,” Konerko said. “I don't know if that changes something mechanically, it might, but you make adjustments to your swing that can set off different things that can help you do well. But it's constant.
“If you don't have it, you're scraping every day and fighting to get it, and if you have it you're fighting every day to keep it. So it's never-ending. But I wouldn't be able to tell you if I did. The way I work, and the way I do things, it's just trying to get a feel for something. I don't know if it changes anything mechanically speaking.”