Paul Konerko sees Sox as a contender

Most baseball experts were ready to hand the AL Central championship to the Detroit Tigers in spring training, but Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko believes that his team can play with Detroit.

“The key for us is that we came out of the gate with a really good approach on how to attack every day and guys have bought in to it,” Konerko said.

Although the White Sox entered Friday’s game against the Boston Red Sox on a three-game losing streak, Chicago has stayed with the Tigers in the standings. Nonetheless, Konerko warns that any letdown in effort could be an obstacle for this young group.

“That’s the challenge,” Konerko said, “It can be easy to come in and not do the stuff we have been doing as the season wears on. It’s also easy to start thinking big thoughts that we are ‘in it’ now. That’s not how we are going to be successful.”

The White Sox added their fifth bullpen pitcher who has spent less than 50 days in the major leagues when Dylan Axelrod was called up from the minors to replace the injured Jesse Crain. Youth movement or not, Konerko, who hit his 400th career home run in Oakland this week, feels this team has plenty of talent to stay the course of a long season.

“There is a plan and the coaches are on board setting up the plan for those [young] guys,” he said. “Even when we are blown out all these guys can feel like they had put an honest day of work in and then you come back the next day ready to fight again.”

Konerko has certainly done his share of the heavy lifting, hitting .372 with five home runs and 15 RBIs entering Friday.