Monday, August 8, 2011
Gamble on hobbled Konerko paying off
By Doug Padilla
BALTIMORE -- Paul Konerko was never much of a runner, but even the tortoise is using the passing lane on him now.
Hit in the knee by a pitch on July 31, Konerko suffered nerve damage that continues to make it painful to simply jog. He can swing the bat pain-free so manager Ozzie Guillen has wrestled with the decision of late to use his captain for his swing and accept whatever disadvantages come from his lack of foot speed.
The White Sox had been getting away with a slower-than-usual RBI man until Monday when it appeared to cost them a chance in an eventual 7-6 victory over the Orioles.
In the sixth inning as the White Sox were clinging to a 4-3 lead, Konerko reached first base on an error. Carlos Quentin followed with what looked to be a sure double down the left-field line, but a hobbling Konerko was thrown out at third base.
When A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single it was good for just one run instead of two and a 5-3 lead. The Orioles erased that an inning later on J.J. Hardy’s three-run home run before the White Sox's comeback was completed in the eighth inning.
At first glance, his decision to take third base looked like it cost the White Sox a run, but perhaps it was just the opposite. Had Konerko held at second on Quentin’s hit, he probably doesn’t score on Pierzynski’s single. Going to third allowed Quentin to advance to second and he scored on the hit. The White Sox won by a run.
“I cannot ask much of PK, and he was grinding it out,” Guillen said.
Konerko has told Guillen he can hit, but if the manager thinks his inability to run will hurt the team he is fine with letting somebody else play. Guillen has decided to stick with Konerko and the White Sox are on a four-game win streak after losing all three games that he missed last week.