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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Konerko: Moving WBC to July may work

By Bruce Levine

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko who won't be playing in the World Baseball Classic as the U.S. team chose Eric Hosmer to replace Mark Teixeira, said it might be wise to change the tournament's schedule.

“Maybe the best thing to do is take two weeks off in the middle of the season if you want get at it the right way having best versus best," Konerko said. "I am sure that would take a lot more planning and that would be tough to do.

"It is still fun to watch. I watch it and it is still great baseball. If they are going to have every country's best players they will have to make an adjustment to what they do now. At that point there are no excuses. Maybe that will happen someday but they are doing it the best way they can do it now."

Konerko believes more fans from the United States would get involved if the tournament were in July.

"The hard part is there just is so much time in the year to do it," he said. "There are a handful of names not on the team. Until those guys are on the team how can you say it is the best?"

One of the reasons Konerko and other veterans balk at WBC competition is the demands of early season preparation to be ready to play full WBC games in early March.

"The getting ready part is tough," Konerko said. "You can’t have it in the fall or the winter.

Konerko had a big day on Thursday. He hit two home runs against the crosstown rival Cubs and watched his young teammate Chris Sale get a lucrative, five-year contract at age 23.

“You just know the type of person he is, that he will work hard and that he wants (to be great)," Konerko said. "There is always a risk of injury but as long as the two things are there, that he is a gamer and wants to show up than it makes sense to do it."

John Danks, who signed a five-year, $65 million in 2011 agrees with Konerko.

"Chris Sale is an elite pitcher in baseball," Danks said. "He is beyond ace status. He is in the upper echelon of the league. If last year was any indication he will be bidding every year for Cy Young."