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Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Age and injuries catching up to Konerko

By Bruce Levine

CHICAGO -- Even the best baseball player can’t dodge the cruel impact of injuries and attrition that comes with a long career forever. Such seems to be the case of Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko, who will miss his second straight game on Wednesday with lower back soreness.

When healthy the first baseman-DH can still have some impact. He was riding a seven-game hitting streak before missing Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets.

Konerko has spent the last two days in the trainer’s room trying to get some relief for a stiff back. The back flare up is usually caused by a chronic condition that he has had to deal with for over 10 years.

“That is just part of it,” said Sox manager Robin Ventura, who had many of same aches and pains to deal with during his 15-year career. “I think everybody (who plays a long time) goes through it. It is still fun, there are days that are harder than others. He still enjoys it, you can tell by the work he puts in and everything he does that he enjoys it.”


Konerko has had his time on the field severely cut by Ventura in order to keep him viable as a middle-of-the-lineup threat. During a spring training meeting Ventura told Konerko that he might DH more than play first base in 2013.

“That wear and tear is the price you pay for playing a long time,” Ventura. “It is worth it and I don’t think he would change it. Again, he is just one of the fortunate guys (to play that long.)”

Ventura has been proactive in resting the 37-year-old Sox icon without asking at times.

“Sometimes I make decisions for him that he might not necessarily like to get him a day here and there,” Ventura said. “It doesn’t make it any easier for either of us because I want him in there, he wants to be in there.”

Konerko, a would-be free agent at the end of the season, needs 28 home runs to catch All-time Sox leader Frank Thomas with 448. His home run output this season is way down. Since May 1 Konerko has hit just three home runs and is on pace for a career-low 15 in 2013.