Sunday, September 29, 2013
Konerko return would not be a surprise
By Bruce Levine
Paul Konerko walks off the field after the White Sox's final game Sunday.
CHICAGO -- If Paul Konerko returns for another season, nobody who knows him well will really be shocked. The Chicago White Sox first baseman will make up his mind at some point over the next six weeks and then sit down with Sox officials to determine what role he might play in the team’s future.
Konerko has expressed an openness to a possible new chapter in his major league career, which began in 1997. Physical limitations have planted the seed in Konerko’s thought process that a part-time role might be the way to go.
If Konerko wants to take one more year before a career in carpooling his kids begins full-time, then mentoring teammates and playing a couple of times a week may be a sufficient way to end his baseball career.
The good news for Sox fans is that Konerko’s wife, Jen, has been totally supportive of Paul deciding when he wants to retire. That kind of hall pass from home is huge for an aging player with young children to raise. Konerko plans on taking his family on more road trips next season if he does decide to play. The role of player –coach does not appeal to him, yet some of his responsibilities would fall into that area if he returns as a supplemental player.
Whenever Konerko takes his final curtain call, which may have happened Sunday, he will be the last player to leave who played on the 2005 World Champion White Sox. Konerko is content with the knowledge that many great players never got to grab the brass ring like he and his teammates did eight seasons ago.
“The last-man-standing thing is not that big of a deal,” said Konerko. “When you look around and you see that team and that year you remember how fragile and how tough it is to get one of those things. You look around and not to just pick just his name, but you see Todd Helton. He is awesome -- great guy, great career, and he didn’t get one (World Series ring). He deserved one. I look at guys like that and realize that is the highlight. It is not the All-Star Games or this game or that game, it is not even close to winning a World Series.”
Konerko’s legacy has grown among the fan base after returning twice for less money. He had chances with Baltimore and Arizona to make more cash when free-agent opportunities were presented after the 2005 and 2010 seasons. He has always been “The Man” of the blue-collar White Sox fan base.
“I could have left a couple of times but I stayed,” he said on Sunday. “I will always take pride in that. There are numbers and statistics that everybody has, but for me, I was 2-for-2 on that.”
A good bet at this time is that Konerko and the Sox brass make it 3-for-3 as he approaches the next phase and final chapter of his stellar baseball career.