Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Konerko's arrival will take center stage
By Doug Padilla
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago White Sox are preparing for their first full-squad workout Thursday, although nearly everybody on the roster already has arrived.
Paul Konerko is expected to report Thursday to his final spring training as a player.
The star attraction will be captain Paul Konerko, who will arrive at camp for the final time in his career. Konerko, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal in the offseason, has already said that he will retire at the end of the year.
The only player not expected to be in attendance is reliever Ronald Belisario, who is being delayed in his native Venezuela by visa issues. The White Sox could know more about his situation by Monday as they anxiously await the arrival of the pitcher they signed to a $3 million deal.
Konerko works out on his own and typically arrives on report day, although he has made early visits in the past to get a jump on his annual physical exam. Catcher Tyler Flowers already tried to tease Konerko via text for not being in camp yet and the veteran replied that he was pacing himself and referred to Flowers as "kid."
While spring training figures to be business as usual for Konerko, his real adjustment will come once the regular season starts as he adapts to more of a bench role.
"There's going to be a lot of days this year where I don't play, or I play and don't do good that day, and the end results might not be anything even close to what I've done since the playing time will be less," Konerko said at SoxFest last month. "But I know a lot of those days where I don't even play I can go home saying, 'That's a great day,' because of what I know I did.
"That's totally different than in years past where when you're that four-hole hitter, you have to carry the team at times, you have to drive in runs, you have to be the guy. If you do the other things, great, but you know everything is hinging on you producing and putting up numbers. It's different now. I still want to do well, don't get me wrong, I want to help the team win."
While Konerko's production waned sharply last season, with injuries as a major factor, all of Konerko's teammates are anxious for his arrival to kick off a send-off season.
"I wanted him to come back for one more year," Gordon Beckham said Tuesday. "I think he deserves it; I think baseball deserves it. He would never say that, but I think he needs a little bit of a victory lap. I feel like he is one of the most unsung guys in the big leagues for as good as he is.
"I think he deserves at least to be recognized throughout the year. He doesn't want that, but as his friend and a guy that respects what he has done, he deserves that."