Chicago White Sox: Boston Red Sox
To this point, Konerko has remained relatively unaffected as he begins to see certain ballparks for the last time. The American League parks he has already played in for the last time include the homes of the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.
Most of Konerko's family still lives in New England, especially Rhode Island, and his wife and children were already visiting family there before the White Sox arrived in Boston on Sunday evening.
"Fenway is a cool place," Konerko said. "That was one of the first places I went as a kid. I went to Yankee Stadium first, but when I was maybe 12 or 13, I went to Fenway. I think it will be one of the stadiums I definitely take note of that, 'Hey, this is the last time you'll play here; the last time you'll be here as a player.' "
The only other time Konerko seemed affected by making a final visit to a ballpark was in early May when the White Sox traveled across town for a brief two-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs were even the first team to acknowledge Konerko's pending retirement, presenting him with a No. 14 (his uniform number) from the famed Wrigley Field scoreboard in center field. Konerko said afterward that he genuinely appreciated the gesture and said the memento will definitely end up being displayed somewhere.
While Konerko expects an unknown number of family members to attend each game of the four-game series with the Red Sox, he admits that it won't be a crush of people like it may have been in his younger days.
As Konerko goes through the process of having his immediate family travel with him to key cities for the last time, he continues to balance family time with what he needs to be doing at the ballpark.
"For me, the framework of the day of getting ready to play, whatever my role is that day, that to me is always in the forefront," he said. "I don't want anything to change that because that's what I came back here for, to do it right. I will be more proud if I do that. I don't want it to become where the game that day is the secondary thing because I'm sightseeing and doing this and that. I want to enjoy it, but it's always about the game and getting ready. I don't want to change that."
If there have been any surprises for Konerko on his farewell tour, it has been the number of coaches and players that have approached him this season.
"That's probably been the best part or the most unexpected cool part is that I have had a lot of people go out of their way to come up for like two minutes and tell me their feelings, or to say 'Hey man, I appreciate how you did it,'" Konerko said. "And it's people I don't even know, I haven't even spoke to before that would go out of their way to speak to me. That makes you feel good."
For Konerko it's validation that if you have the utmost respect for your teammates, it will turn into respect from people around the league.
Perhaps it's fitting that the game that Konerko will likely start in the upcoming series is the final one of the four Thursday. The Red Sox will have left-hander Jon Lester on the mound, somebody that Konerko has hit well in his career.
Whether or not the Red Sox will recognize the departing Konerko is unknown, but the series will still feel special to him either way. He knows that there will be more New England days in his future, even though he has no intention of moving from his Scottsdale, Ariz., home.
"I don't really get back to the East Coast to see my family," Konerko said. "Because of our schedule, the last thing I feel like doing in the wintertime is going all the way back there. It gets tough to travel. When I'm done playing I feel like I'll head back there more to spend time with family, things I haven't done over the years because there's just too much going on at home.
"But as far as the play, I don't know until I get there how it will hit me, but I'm guessing it will resonate a little more than maybe other stadiums would, not to downplay Texas or a place like there where there is no connection. It will have a little bit more feeling than that I would imagine."
“It has been a fun journey,” Dempster said before the Red Sox’s game against the Chicago White Sox. “Texas was a really good place to go and I was really lucky. It has been awesome being over here. It has been a blast and we have gotten off to a really good start.”
Here’s a quick look at the White Sox’s loss in Boston on Thursday night.
How it happened: Jose Quintana was outstanding, allowing five hits and striking out two over eight shutout innings. The rookie’s luck, however, continued to be of the unfavorable variety. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead into the ninth frame, but Cody Ross’ three-run homer off Addison Reed gave the Red Sox their first runs of the contest and resulted in a walk-off loss for the White Sox. The fault for the defeat shouldn’t be assigned solely to Reed. Matt Thornton began the ninth inning and retired only one of the three batters he faced. Reed entered the game with runners on first and second -- both of whom scored on Ross’ homer. Moreover, the White Sox struggled at the plate, registering only eight hits (and one walk). Chicago’s only run came on Alex Rios’ sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.
What it means: By losing three of four, the White Sox dropped their first series since mid-June. With the Tigers winning, Chicago’s lead in the American League Central is down to just 1 1/2 games.
Outside the box: In consecutive series, the White Sox have been hurt by unlikely heroes. In Kansas City this past weekend, it was Alcides Escobar collecting six hits and six RBIs over the course of a three-game set. In Boston, outfielder Cody Ross hit three three-run homers in the final two games of the series.
The 27-year-old Veal, who was a second-round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs in 2005, is 6-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 29 relief appearances at Charlotte. Veal appeared in 19 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009.
He will be the 21st pitcher to make the White Sox’s 25-man roster this season.
Hernandez, who was called up on Wednesday, allowed 12 hits and eight runs in four innings in a 10-1 loss to the Red Sox.
The Chicago White Sox were in a difficult spot on Wednesday.
Not that their 10-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox was inevitable, but that’s what happens sometimes when you’re in a bind like the type of situation the White Sox were forced to confront on Wednesday.
Because of injuries in the starting rotation and reshuffling of pitchers, the White Sox called up Pedro Hernandez to start for them on Wednesday. Not only was Hernandez making his major league debut earlier than the White Sox probably would have liked in his career, he was also asked to do so in historic Fenway Park against a above-average lineup.
The situation certainly could have gone in Hernandez’s favor and allowed for him to experience a fairytale beginning to his career. That didn’t happen, though.
Hernandez was knocked around like a pinball by the Red Sox’s lineup, especially Cody Ross, who had two three-run homers. By the time White Sox manager Robin Ventura came to get Hernandez in the fifth inning, he had allowed 12 hits, three home runs and eight runs.
“It’s just one of those days,” Ventura said afterward. “He’s got good stuff, though. You see pieces of it there, pitches he’s making in other counts, others batters. He’ll grow from it and learn.”
Hernandez will do that learning in Triple-A as he was sent back down to Charlotte after the game. Outside of a keepsake ball from his first pitch, Hernandez won’t have much to fondly remember Wednesday by, but he has tasted the majors now.
The positive for the White Sox is they should be able to avoid another predicament like this unless another injury occurs.
The White Sox’s starting rotation should start resembling what they’ll take into battle for the American League Central over the next few months.
Jose Quintana will start against the Red Sox on Thursday. Chris Sale will match up against the Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander on Friday. Jake Peavy will start on Saturday and Philip Humber will start on Sunday.
The one uncertainty is still the fifth starter. Ventura could go with Dylan Axelrod or Gavin Floyd when the White Sox return home on Monday. Ventura has said he’d like to utilize Axelrod as his long reliever and spot starter. Floyd could come off the disabled list on Monday if he’s healthy enough.
How it happened: White Sox starting pitcher Pedro Hernandez’s major league debut didn’t go so well. Hernandez allowed 12 hits, three home runs and eight runs in four innings. Cody Ross did the bulk of the damage with two three-run homers. Ross had three hits, including a double, and six RBIs. Ross and Adrian Gonzalez hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead when Paul Konerko drove Alejandro De Aza in the first inning, but it didn’t last long.
What it means: The White Sox are in jeopardy of dropping their first series since losing two out of three games to the Chicago Cubs in mid-June. Since then, they’ve won five series and split one. As for the American League Central, the Detroit Tigers moved back within 2 ½ games.
Outside the box: Konerko appeared in his 2,000 game with White Sox on Wednesday. He ranks third in team history behind Luke Appling (2,442) and Nellie Fox (2,115).
Hernandez was 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 14 appearances, including 13 starts, in the minors this season. He was named this season to the Double-A Southern League All-Star team and was promoted to Triple-A on July 6 and had a 3.75 ERA in two starts there. He was acquired by the White Sox as part of the Carlos Quentin trade with the San Diego Padres in 2011.
Hernandez replaces Jhan Marinez, who was optioned on Tuesday.
Hernandez is the 12th rookie and 10th pitcher to appear on the White Sox’s 25-man roster this season.
Here’s a quick look at the Chicago White Sox’s 7-5 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
How it happened: White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis’ production against his old team didn’t go to waste this time around. Youkilis put some separation between the two teams with a three-home run in the fourth inning to give the White Sox a 6-2 lead. He had two runs and three RBIs in the win and has reached base five times in the two games. White Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber was solid in his first game since June 16. He allowed two runs in the first inning, but he settled down from there on out. He allowed six hits, two runs, zero walks and struck out three in six innings. White Sox reliever Matt Thornton allowed three runs in the eighth inning to allow the Red Sox back into the game, but Addison Reed netted his 15th save of the season to close things out.
What it means: The White Sox added to their lead in the American League Central with the win. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians lost Tuesday, and the White Sox are now ahead of the Tigers by 3 ½ games and the Indians by four games.
Outside the box: White Sox designated Adam Dunn isn’t known for his speed, but he stole his first base of the season on Tuesday. It was his first stolen base since Aug. 6, 2008. He had 19 stolen bases in 2002 and has 60 for his career.
Up next: Pedro Hernandez will make his major-league debut when he starts for the White Sox on Wednesday. Hernandez has spent the bulk of his season in Double-A. Felix Doubrant (9-4, 4.41) will start for the Red Sox in the 6:10 p.m. game.
The bad news was Gavin Floyd was replacing Humber on the disabled list.
Now the question is which Humber will be coming back? Humber can lessen the blow Floyd's injury if he can find some consistency on the mound.
Humber’s been as good as a pitcher can be (throwing a perfect game) and nearly as bad as a manager will allow (he’s had two starts in which he’s allowed eight or more runs).
While the White Sox won’t be expecting another perfect game, they are hopeful Humber can keep them in games. He has posted six starts during which he has allowed four runs or more and six starts in which he has allowed three runs or less.
Here’s a look at the White Sox’s lineup against the Red Sox:
1. Alejandro De Aza, CF
2. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
3. Adam Dunn, DH
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. Alex Rios, RF
6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
7. Dayan Viciedo, LF
8. Alexei Ramirez, SS
9. Gordon Beckham, 2B
Youkilis went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored in his return to Boston for the first time since he was traded on June 24. It was the fourth time he's had at least three hits in the 17 games he's played with the White Sox.
Those three knocks weren't enough, however, as the Red Sox defeated the White Sox, 5-1, so it was a bittersweet homecoming for Youkilis.
Read the entire column.
Youkilis met with the local and national media at 4 p.m. ET in the interview room at the storied ballpark and said all the right things. He praised the Red Sox fans and hopes for a series victory against his old team.
"I'm a competitor, and it doesn't matter who the opposition is because I'm looking to win every game," Youkilis said. "That's my goal."
Youkilis didn't bash Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine even though his relationship with the first-year skipper has been widely viewed as one of the reasons for the trade.
"I'm not here to talk about it and I don't understand why this is still a big rift," Youkilis said. "I'm just here to play baseball, and things will happen. It's about going out and playing the ballgame."
Read the entire story.
On the eve of his first game at Fenway Park since being traded to the White Sox, former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis asked ESPNBoston.com to pass along this letter to Red Sox fans:
What an amazing run I have had these past 8 1/2 years in Boston!
It has been an honor and a privilege to play every home game of my career in Boston before a sold out Fenway Park. I would like to thank everyone who gave me an opportunity in Boston, and stood behind me through all these years. To the Spinners, the Sea Dogs, the PawSox, and to all those teammates on the Red Sox since 2004, I am forever grateful.
I want to thank the Red Sox ownership for all the hard work and dedication to making the Red Sox and Fenway Park a special place to play. They have always supported me on the field, and have helped out in many ways off the field. I can't thank them enough for my time in Boston.
To Terry Francona, who led us to 2 World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, I thank you for your support and personal guidance through my career with the Red Sox. I thank you for being there for me not just as a manager but as a friend off the field. Thank you for the opportunity to play in 3 All-Star Games, winning 2 World Series, winning the Hank Aaron Award and a Gold Glove. I could have never accomplished all this without all my great teammates and coaches who made me a better player.
I want to thank my parents and brothers for all their support from the day I got drafted. Without my Dad's hard work building that batting cage, and my Mom tirelessly schlepping me around to all my games, I would never have lived my dreams in Boston. I want to thank my beautiful wife Julie and all her family for all their support. We will always cherish Boston since it was the city in which we met and married.
I also want to thank all the philanthropic people around New England and across the country who supported my charity in the past and continue to support Youk’s Kids. Since its inception, we have raised over $3 million to support the neediest of children in Red Sox Nation. While my days of playing for the Red Sox have ended, I am still committed to serving the New England area through my charity. I thank all the charity’s sponsors for all they have done, and their continued support going forward.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Michael DwyerKevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia embraced after Youk's final at bat in a Red Sox uniform.
And, last but no means least, to all the Red Sox Nation, the home of the most dedicated and knowledgeable fans in baseball, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. That final game at Fenway was the most emotional day of my life on the baseball field. It could not have been scripted any better. And to all those kids out there in Red Sox Nation, I can give you my Dad’s advice. “Life is like a throw to first base, always aim high.”
I love you all, and thanks,
Read the full story.