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Konerko can see fans' side for cheering HBP

8/8/2013
Some fans cheered Tuesday when Alex Rodriguez was hit by a Chris Sale pitch at the Cell. Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko took up the cause for South Side fans, not long after New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi was critical of their behavior this week.

Girardi thought it was poor form in Tuesday's White Sox-Yankees game at U.S. Cellular field when some fans cheered after Alex Rodriguez was grazed on the left elbow by a 93 mph Chris Sale fastball.

In Konerko's view, the performance-enhancing drug controversy surrounding Rodriguez opens a whole new realm not only for White Sox fans, but for all baseball fans.

"Listen, all fans in baseball are passionate and when it comes to the PED stuff and all that, they feel that's a chance for them to voice their opinion," Konerko said, when asked if fans were within their right Tuesday. "The only way to do that when you're at a game is to do that kind of stuff. It just kind of comes with the territory. As a player, when you play the game, you don't like getting hit. It doesn't feel good. It hurts. So that just adds to it when somebody cheers that you got hit."

Girardi's point, when being critical of the fans' reaction, only seemed to acknowledge a player getting hit and not the factors surrounding the situation.

"There's something wrong with that," Girardi said after Tuesday's game. "I often think that it starts from the adults. And if it was their child, would they want them to be hit? Because the kids will only repeat what the adults do."

Konerko can see Girardi's point, but only to a degree. Add in the PED factor and Konerko seems to acknowledge fans recognizing karma when they see it.

"I don't know how to really take that but it comes with the territory," Konerko said. "I'm sure Alex would say that. He gets it and understands that's the way it's going to be."

Rodriguez played down the entire incident.

"I didn't hear that," he said of the cheers that went up as he jogged to first base. "It was the weirdest thing. I forgot to put my elbow pad on -- probably the first time in 2,000 at-bats. Walking up to the plate, I said, 'Whatever you do, don't get hit in the elbow.' On the second pitch, I got hit on the elbow. I couldn't believe it. I love the fans in Chicago."

Wednesday night, White Sox fans seemed to prove Konerko's point that crowd reactions aren't always about vendettas or team loyalty. Sometimes a bigger view is applied.

When Hall of Fame-bound closer Mariano Rivera jogged onto the field in the ninth inning Wednesday for his final appearance at U.S. Cellular Field, he received a standing ovation from both White Sox and Yankees fans. Shortly thereafter, the cheers were only from White Sox fans as an Adam Dunn single tied the game and left Rivera with a rare blown save, just the 77th of his career, compared to a major league record 643 saves. The White Sox won the game in the 12th inning.

"It was a classy move," Konerko said of the White Sox fans who cheered Rivera. "There are a lot of Yankee fans out there, but when he came in it was everybody. It was a classy move by our fans. I'm sure our fans still wanted to win the game, but I think that's what every team should do with him coming in if they get a chance to see him. He definitely he deserves that after his career and what he's done. That doesn't mean once the ball is in play that you don't try to beat him, which we obviously did. But it was cool.

"Just as a player watching, any time you see those guys, there's a couple of guys even if you've played the game for a long time, guys like (Derek) Jeter, Rivera, where it's still pretty cool to know you are on the field with these guys. They are the greats of all time. So, I hope the rest of the team recognized it too. I took a moment to take that in and it was pretty cool."