Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko

Series preview: White Sox at Rays

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
3:39
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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With 10 games remaining in the season, it's all about the Paul Konerko watch at this point.

Konerko is back in the lineup Friday night in the series opener at Tampa Bay after fracturing a bone in his left hand on Sept. 2, giving him six final road games to get in some swings in advance of his final four home games Sept. 25-28 against the Kansas City Royals.

Konerko said he would like to see some pitches in advance of that final home series to dial in his swing before playing in front of White Sox fans for the last time.

How many games he gets in advance of that final series likely will be determined by how his left hand reacts from Friday's game against the Rays. Just two weeks ago, Konerko couldn't even grip a bat, so there isn't a ton of expectation that he will be productive.

But with the White Sox long out of playoff contention, sending Konerko off into the sunset in style is about as good as it gets for the next week and a half. And that isn't a bad thing, considering that Konerko is the White Sox's all-time leader in total bases (4,008) and is second in home runs (432), RBIs (1,383) and extra-base hits (846).

The six-time All-Star has a White Sox record of 13 seasons with 20 or more home runs.

The White Sox plan to honor their team captain with Paul Konerko Night on Saturday, Sept. 27.

HEAD TO HEAD



The White Sox's Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-9 (.333) against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, while Moises Sierra is 3-for-7 (.429) with a home run. ... White Sox hitters Adam Eaton, Tyler Flowers and Ramirez all are 2-for-4 (.500) against Rays right-hander Chris Archer, while Jose Abreu is 2-for-3 (.667). ... Rays starter Nathan Karns has made four career starts (three with the Washington Nationals) and has never faced the White Sox. ... Rays hitters are a combined 4-for-17 (.235) against White Sox starter Jose Quintana with one RBI. ... The Rays' Matt Joyce is 4-for-7 (.571) against White Sox starter Hector Noesi, while David DeJesus is 4-for-5 (.800). ... The Rays' Yunel Escobar is 6-for-12 (.500) against White Sox starter John Danks, while Sean Rodriguez is 6-for-14 (.429).

NOTES



Abreu needs one home run to set a White Sox rookie record. He is tied for the mark at 35 with Ron Kittle. ... Quintana, who starts Friday night, is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 23 strikeouts over his last three starts, all quality. ... The White Sox are just 2-10 over their last 12 road games and have been outscored 59-35 in that stretch. ... If the White Sox can win four more times in the last 10 games they will avoid consecutive 90-plus loss seasons for the first time since 1988-89. ... White Sox starters have a 3.20 ERA over the last 13 games, with nine of those quality starts. ... The White Sox are tied for second in the American League with a .261 batting average since the all-star break. ... The White Sox and Rays haven't met since April, when the White Sox took three games in a four-game series at U.S. Cellular Field. ... Hellickson, who starts for the Rays on Friday, hasn't won at home since July of last year ... when he faced the White Sox.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (8-10, 3.30 ERA) vs. Rays RH Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 3.63), 6:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (8-10, 4.77) vs. Rays RH Chris Archer (9-8., 3.54), 6:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-11, 4.88) vs. Rays RH Nathan Karns (1-0, 0.00), 12:40 p.m. CST

Stock Watch: Abreu powers up again

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:19
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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AbreuAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJose Abreu ended his home run drought with two long balls over the weekend.

RISING

Streaking
Jose Abreu, DH/1B: After finally ending his home run drought Saturday, Abreu hit another Sunday giving him home runs in back to back games for the fourth time this season and first time since early June. He has a hit in 22 of the last 23 games and is batting .427 over that stretch with 12 RBIs and 11 multi-hit games.

Starting pitching: Scott Carroll and Hector Noesi might have ended the starting staff's run of consecutive quality starts at eight, but the current run from the rotation continues to be impressive. Even with the five earned runs Noesi gave up Sunday, White Sox starters still have a 2.81 ERA over the last 10 games since Sept. 5, and eight of those outings have been quality.

Jake Petricka, RP: Not only did the right-hander pick up his first victory of the season in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, he has delivered six consecutive scoreless innings over his last six appearances. He has converted five consecutive save opportunities since Aug. 17 and he has a 1.65 ERA in his 16 save opportunities this season. Oh, and he also welcomed the birth of his daughter last week.

FALLING

Slumping
Alexei Ramirez, SS: His season offensively is as good as any shortstop in the American League, but Ramirez has been scuffling at the plate of late. He is batting just .122 (5-for-41) in September and .198 (22-for-111) over his last 28 games. He still leads AL shortstops in home runs (15), slugging percentage (.414) and extra-base hits (49). He also leads with a .983 fielding percentage.

Paul Konerko, DH/1B: This was supposed to be a month-long celebration of Konerko's career, but a fracture of a small bone in his left hand has put that on hold. Konerko will try to give the hand a go on the upcoming nine-game road trip with the idea that he could be in sync offensively by the time returns for the final home series of the season, Sept. 25-28 against the Kansas City Royals.

Adam Eaton, CF: There haven't been too many dry spells from the high-energy leadoff man, but the just-concluded homestand wasn't his best. Eaton went 4-for-23 (.174) in the games against the A's and Twins. In September, Eaton is 6-for-42 (.143) after going 48-for-113 (.425) over his previous 29 games.

Series preview: White Sox at Royals

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
3:48
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
The Chicago White Sox have nobody to blame but themselves for their dashed playoff hopes, but they can still make a mark on other playoff chases.

The final road trip of the season, which starts Monday night, includes games against the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers, both of whom are battling for the American League Central title. Heading into play Monday night, the Royals trail the Tigers in the division by 1 1/2 games.

The White Sox will see the Royals first for the final three games of the season at Kansas City. From there it's three games at Tampa Bay against the Rays, who no longer are a playoff threat, and then it's the final road series next week at Detroit. The season ends with four games at home, Sept. 25-28, against the Royals.

The Royals haven't made the playoff since 1985 and their 28-year drought is the longest in baseball. In losing three of four games against the disappointing Boston Red Sox this past weekend, the Royals appear to be cracking under the pressure of the huge opportunity in front of them.

The White Sox, meanwhile, played well on their just concluded seven-game homestand, winning five of those games. They won three of four games against the playoff-contending Oakland Athletics and swept a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

The White Sox have won just four times in 12 tries against the Royals this season and have been outscored 59-39. Against the AL Central, the White Sox have lost five of their last seven games and are 13-19 on the road.

HEAD TO HEAD



Royals starter James Shields is 1-1 against the White Sox this season in three starts, with a 2.25 ERA over 20 innings. ... Royals starter Yordano Ventura, who has delivered an impressive rookie season, has his problems against the White Sox, facing them once this year and once late last season, giving up four home runs while posting a 7.20 ERA over 10 innings. ... Players on the Royals' 40-man roster have 175 at-bats against White Sox starter John Danks and have only hit two home runs, while batting .223. ... The White Sox's Chris Bassitt will make his fourth career appearance and third start Tuesday against the Royals, who he has never faced. ... White Sox starter Chris Sale has an impressive 2.36 ERA in 99 career innings against the Royals but is just 7-7 against them.

NOTES



The White Sox are 30-36 against American League Central teams this season, with 10 more games remaining. ... Jose Abreu tied Ron Kittle's White Sox rookie record of 35 home runs with a blast on Sunday, one day after matching Kittle's mark of 100 RBIs in his rookie season if 1983. ... The White Sox have lost six of their last seven games against the Royals, but are 9-4 over their last 13 games at Kauffman Stadium. ... The White Sox are just 1-8 over their last nine road games. ... Danks, who will start for the White Sox on Monday night, is 6-0 with a 2.58 ERA over 14 career starts, 11 quality, against the Royals. ... Paul Konerko needs one home run to tie Jason Giambi (440) for 41st place on the all-time list, while Alexei Ramirez needs one home run for 100 in his career.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Monday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-11, 5.05 ERA) vs. Royals RH James Shields (14-7, 3.13), 7:10 p.m. CST
Tuesday: White Sox RH Chris Bassitt (0-1, 4.73) vs. TBA, 7:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox LH Chris Sale (12-3, 1.99) vs. Royals RH Yordano Ventura (12-9, 3.25), 7:10 p.m. CST

Abreu in full sprint as he catches Kittle

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
5:34
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Jose AbreuAP Photo/Andrew A. NellesJose Abreu hit his 35th home run Sunday and added an RBI single.


CHICAGO -- Ron Kittle's magic rookie season of 1983 now has an equal, at least when it comes to power and run production, and Jose Abreu still has two weeks worth of games remaining to raise the bar even further.

Abreu tied Kittle’s Chicago White Sox rookie record of 35 home runs with a ninth-inning blast that closed the margin slightly in an eventual 6-4 defeat to the Minnesota Twins. On Saturday he matched Kittle’s 100 RBIs from that same ’83 year.

Abreu's strength had appeared to diminish over the last month and a half, but his home run Sunday gave him long balls in back-to-back games for the first time since early June.

“He's a good hitter so this isn't a surprise that he hit a home run,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He's been pretty consistent just as a hitter. The power's going to be there. He went through a little stretch where he wasn't hitting many home runs, but it's there.

“That's part of him learning to go through a full season. I didn’t see it, as when he went through it he wasn't going to come back. Right now, he's as good as anybody in the league.”

(Read full post)

Retirement now closing in fast on Konerko

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
12:57
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko missed the opportunity to inflict damage on the Minnesota Twins one last time as he sat out his final series against the Chicago White Sox's division rivals with a hand injury.

The Twins weren’t about to complain, especially since Konerko’s 50 home runs against the Twins are his most against any one team.

All that production, though, didn’t stop Twins manager Ron Gardenhire from complimenting the productive career of the White Sox slugger, who will retire once the season ends later this month.

“I’ve had the unpleasant experience of watching him round the bases a few too many times on us, but you know, he’s just that professional guy that’s handled himself on and off the field as well as anybody,” Gardenhire said Sunday. “Clutch hitter, always big in those big situations for you, and a guy that you hated to see come up from our side in RBI situations, because he was the man. He wasn’t going to miss.”

Unable to play over the last week and a half because of an injured left hand, Konerko is starting to realize how fast the end of his career is approaching. After Sunday, there will only be four more home games remaining in his career, Sept 25-28 against the Kansas City Royals.

“You’re definitely aware of what's going on; you're not going to be able to stop the clock,” Konerko said. “It's going to move. It's going to get here. I'm trying to find that balance in between. This time of year, everybody in here, you're kind of leaning toward, 'Let's get this over with.' It's human to have those thoughts. There's some of that but you also, ‘Not so fast, this is kind of the last time.’”

Konerko wasn’t exactly a perfect fit on a roster that also started the season with Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn on it. But everybody associated with the White Sox was more than appreciative of his presence this year.

Missing time of late hasn’t been ideal, but Konerko has managed to make the best of it.

“There's a lot of stuff I don't know if I wouldn't have done if I had been out there,” Konerko said. “I don't think I could have done both had I been playing the role I'm playing in. There's a lot of coordination going on. So I guess that's one of the bright spots, is a lot of stuff got hammered out, so I think when I leave here today and then come back, it's all done. It's all in motion.

“Those last four days I should be able to treat pretty normal as far as the day, so I'm looking forward to that I guess. We'll see. I've said it all year, this is the first time and last time I'll ever do this, so I don't know what to expect on all that stuff, I don't know where my thoughts will be, what it will look like, any of that stuff. I'm just blowing in the wind here.”

Hand sore, but Konerko ready to return

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
12:15
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Retiring Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko reported progress with the small fracture in his left hand and might be able to return to action during the first series of the upcoming road trip.

After taking about 30-40 swings Saturday, Konerko’s goal is to play at some point in the three games at Kansas City that begin Monday. Barring that, he is certain he could appear in next weekend’s series at Tampa Bay.

“I'm in a pretty good spot; I took some swings off the tee, some soft toss,” said Konerko, who suffered the injury during a game at Minnesota earlier this month. “I definitely could feel it in there. It's a little sore today but it's soreness that I know. It's not that I went backward. It was expected. So I think now, for me, I have no worries that I'm going to get back out there this week.”

With no setbacks, he is expected to play in the final White Sox series of the season Sept. 25-28 against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox are planning to celebrate the veteran’s career on Paul Konerko Night, Sept. 27.

“Going on the road, I'll have plenty of time to sit and talk about it, figure out when he's available and when it feels right for him to go back out there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It all depends on how he's feeling.”

White Sox honor scout's selfless act

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
4:15
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – For his decision to come to a family in need after a horrific car crash on an Arizona highway in June, Chicago White Sox scout John Kazanas has earned the team’s Roland Hemond Award for extraordinary personal sacrifice.

Kazanas, who has been a White Sox scout for the past 25 years, was on a dangerous stretch of highway between Phoenix and Las Vegas when a minivan two vehicles ahead of him was sideswiped by a truck hauling a trailer.

The van rolled multiple times in the median, with Kazanas rushing to the aid of the victims. He had to break a window in the van to help free a mother and her three children, including one who was an infant unharmed in a car seat.

Reports of the incident indicated that other motorists continued down the road without helping, while the driver that caused the crash stopped on the side of the road, but did not assist the victims.

"I guess you're challenged in some way and you know what's right," Kazanas told the Arizona Republic.

Nobody is more pleased with Kazanas actions than Donovan Dunnam, whose wife Hollee and three children ages 6, 3 and 1 were in the van.

“He kept my kids calm, talked sports with my middle son Ethan and just stayed there the whole time,” Donovan Dunnam told Baseball America. “He had places to go, but he took time out of his day to stop for a wife and kids that he didn’t know. That’s just a testament that you don’t have to be a firefighter or a cop to be a hero.

“The story people should know — especially the White Sox organization – is what kind of scout they have. ... He risked his life to help my wife and save my children and I’m forever grateful of that.”

In addition to receiving his award on the field before Sunday’s White Sox-Minnesota Twins game, Kazanas also will get a trip to the 2015 All-Star Game at Cincinnati as a guest of the White Sox.

Among the amateur players Kazanas has scouted during his career is Paul Konerko.

“It is an honor and pleasure to see John Kazanas receive this award,” former general manager Roland Hemond said in a statement. “John is a true baseball man, who through his selfless act became a hero to a family in need.”

Stock watch: Sale making Cy Young push

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
1:25
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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SaleJon Durr/USA TODAY SportsWhite Sox ace Chris Sale has a 2.08 ERA over his last six starts but is just 1-2.

RISING


Streaking
Chris Sale, SP: The left-hander looks like he will have to go it alone in a final push for a potential Cy Young Award. Sale is just 1-2 over his last six starts (the team is 2-4 in those starts), while posting a tidy 2.08 ERA over that span. Sale leads the American League with a 2.09 ERA, just ahead of Felix Hernandez (2.18), who is considered his biggest competitor for the Cy Young honor. Sale is 11-3, while Hernandez is 14-5 this season.

Jose Abreu, 1B/DH: Abreu is close to becoming the first rookie to finish in the top five of all three triple crown categories. He will enter play Monday fifth in batting average (.320) and third in home runs (33) and fourth in RBIs at 99 after not recording any so far this month. Abreu's batting average is on the rise significantly as he has hit .471 since Aug. 22. As for that recent RBI drought, that is more a result of not having anybody to drive in since he is 5-for-15 since the start of the month.

Adam Eaton, CF: Despite going 0-for-4 on Sunday at Cleveland, Eaton is still batting .386 (51-for-132) over his past 34 games, a stretch going back to July 10. He has raised his overall batting average from .265 to .303, eighth best in the American League. He has a .382 batting average since the All-Star break.

FALLING


Slumping
Conor Gillaspie, 3B: It's hard to knock the left-handed hitter who has exceeded expectations offensively, but Gillaspie is batting just .209 since raising his batting average to an impressive .327 after a three-hit performance at Detroit on July 29. His batting average didn't fall under .300 for the first time until Aug. 30, and he will carry a .294 mark in to Monday's game, which is still 10th-best in the American League.

Alexei Ramirez, SS: The All-Star had a burst of energy in August to get his batting average near the .300 mark, but the start of September has been a struggle. Ramirez did hit a home run Friday at Cleveland, but is just 1-for-16 in the five games he has played this month. Those five games have come on the heels of a rare off day, Aug. 31.

Paul Konerko, 1B/DH: A bone fracture in his left hand will limit the retiring Konerko down the stretch. The team captain has refused to give up on his final month, though, and hopes to return at least by the final home series of the season which will include Paul Konerko night on Sept. 27. With 432 White Sox home runs, he won't catch Frank Thomas (448) for the top spot all-time in franchise history, but he does need one more HR to match Jason Giambi for 41st place in baseball history.

White Sox announce Paul Konerko Night, slated for Sept. 27

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
8:43
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago White Sox will send their team captain into retirement in style with Paul Konerko Night on Sept. 27 at U.S. Cellular Field.

The evening, which will take place on the penultimate day of the season, kicks off with a pregame ceremony before the 6:10 p.m. CT game against the Kansas City Royals that recognizes Konerko’s 16 seasons with the White Sox.

[+] EnlargePaul Konerko
AP Photo/Jim MoneJoe Mauer and the Twins celebrated Paul Konerko's pending retirement with a bottle of wine Wednesday in Minneapolis. 
He is the franchise leader in total bases with 4,008, and his 439 home runs are nine behind Frank Thomas’ club record.

A new “Club Konerko” will launch when the White Sox return home Monday against the Oakland Athletics. It will encompass the 1,176 seats in sections 158 and 159, and fans who sit in those seats will receive a Konerko-themed collectible for nine of the 11 games of the month.

Collectibles include a Konerko lapel pin (Sept. 9), a souvenir cup and key ring (Sept. 10), a “PK 14” drawstring bag (Sept. 11), a “PK 14” golf towel (Sept. 12), a Konerko wall cling (Sept. 14), a Konerko poster (Sept. 25), a “PK 14” cap (Sept. 26), a Konerko mask on a stick (Sept. 27) and a “PK 14” T-shirt (Sept. 28).

For the two games there is not a “Club Konerko” exclusive giveaway, there still will be a Konerko-themed giveaway for the first 20,000 fans regardless of seating section. On Sept. 8, the first 20,000 fans in the park will receive a Konerko T-shirt, and on Sept. 13 the first 20,000 fans will get a Konerko baseball card that includes a piece of a game-worn uniform.

The White Sox also released a Konerko tribute commercial on Monday that recognizes his grand slam in the 2005 World Series. The team also is putting together a “social media movie project” that will include hundreds of Konerko-themed photographs from fans posting to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ThanksPK.

Series preview: White Sox at Twins

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2
12:55
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
By the end of a brief two-game series that starts Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins, there is a chance that Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu could stand alone as the only player in the major leagues with 100 RBIs.

Abreu leads the American League with 99 RBIs, and is tied with the Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton for the overall lead in baseball.

With his next RBI, Abreu will become just the fourth White Sox rookie to reach the 100 mark. Smead Jolley had 114 RBIs as a rookie in 1930, Zeke Bonura had 110 in 1934, and Ron Kittle was the last to do it when he had exactly 100 RBIs in his rookie season of 1983.

The milestone will also add Abreu to an elite list of players who managed to collect at least 30 doubles, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in their rookie season. Hal Troskey did it in 1934, Ted Williams managed it in 1939 and Albert Pujols was the last to do it in 2001.

Abreu will enter play Tuesday at Minnesota with 32 doubles and 33 home runs, along with his 99 RBIs. Abreu is three off the home run lead in the American League, behind the Orioles' Nelson Cruz as he tries to become just the third White Sox player to lead the AL in HRs along with Bill Melton (1971) and Dick Allen (1972, 1974).

Abreu also appears to be a lock to win the AL Rookie of the Year award, which will make him the sixth White Sox player to do so and the first since Ozzie Guillen in 1985.

HEAD TO HEAD


Players on the White Sox roster are a combined 8-for-45 (.178) against Twins starter Tommy Milone with no RBIs. Tyler Flowers is 0-for-8 against the left-hander. ... Twins starter Trevor May has never faced the White Sox. ... Twins batters have a combined 65 at-bats against White Sox starter Hector Noesei, with Eduardo Escobar delivering three RBIs against the right-hander and the rest of the roster delivering a combined four. ... The 12 losses White Sox starter John Danks has against the Twins are his most against any team. He also has a 5.35 ERA against them, his worst against any AL Central club.

NOTES


Even with a four-game series split against the Tigers this past weekend, the White Sox are just 3-10 over their last 13 games. ... Rookie second baseman Carlos Sanchez has a hit in nine of his last 10 games and is batting .317 (13-for-41) over that stretch. ... Conor Gillaspie, whose batting average dipped under .300 for the first time Saturday, ended a 12 at-bat hitless streak Sunday with an RBI single in the first inning. ... Flowers has three extra-base hits over his last three games. ... Since July 10, a stretch that includes a stint on the disabled list, Adam Eaton has seven games where he has delivered three or more hits. ... Paul Konerko needs one home run to tie Jason Giambi (440) for 41st place on the all-time list, while Alexei Ramirez needs two runs scored for 500. ... Abreu has driven in 15 runs in the 14 games played against the Twins. ... The Twins lead the season series 8-6 and have won five of the eight games at Target Field this year.

PITCHING MATCHUPS


Tuesday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (8-9, 4.75 ERA) vs. Twins LH Tommy Milone (6-4, 4.08), 7:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-9, 4.88) vs. Twins RH Trevor May (0-3, 8.79), 7:10 p.m. CST

Adam Dunn: the ultimate lightning rod

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
8:55
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DunnBob Levey/Getty ImagesWhile aware Dunn's Sox tenure was tumultuous, Konerko appreciates Dunn's persistence to play every day he was healthy.

CHICAGO -- The end of the Adam Dunn era might have been an easy one for fans to digest, but it left a void in a stunned Chicago White Sox clubhouse Sunday.

It’s not like the team couldn't see Dunn's departure coming. While fans might wonder how the White Sox were able to come away with a player in return, much less find a team in the Oakland Athletics to pick up half of what he is still owed this season, the team's players and staff knew the guy nicknamed "Big Donkey" still had some value.

"He showed up every day," said captain Paul Konerko, well aware that many in the fan base might actually see that as a negative. "I think there was the time he missed [in 2011] when he had his appendix taken out, but when he missed games it was a serious thing, and there wasn't too many of them. From a teammate standpoint, that's really all I cared about and what most guys cared about. That's what we feel about it.

"I don't care if he goes out there and strikes out four times. We all do it. We all have bad games. It’s not an easy game. The fact that he never backed down and played every time he could play, really, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters to us in a lot of ways."

His high point in a White Sox uniform was in 2012 as he powered the offense into a playoff-contending run that ultimately failed. His revival was almost a shock after he hit just 11 home runs with 42 RBIs and batted .159 in 2011, his first season after signing a four-year, $56 million contract.

That 2011 season was also the year when Dunn dealt with his appendix issue, going in for emergency surgery during the first road trip of the season. He forced his way back into the lineup too soon and his struggles were predictable. He also dealt with serious health issues within his own close-knit family that he elected to not talk about.

He remained approachable during his entire time with the White Sox, never backing down from questions about why he wasn't able to deliver the kind of offense that was expected of him.

"Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to beat around the bush and say the four years here was great, because it was, um … just bad," Dunn said outside the White Sox clubhouse Sunday while his now-former team was taking on the Detroit Tigers. "I did it completely to myself. I don't blame anyone; I blame myself. But I met a lot of great people here. I wish things would've worked out better, but it didn't."

Ultimately, fans don't buy tickets to see people who get along best with players on their favorite team. As Dunn's strikeouts mounted and the boos grew louder, he never expressed frustration at how he was treated, always saying it was what he deserved.

His ability to never take it personally and withdraw allowed him to be lighthearted and fun-loving in the clubhouse, something White Sox players appreciated. Looking for a theme to this season, he had a toy chimpanzee the size of a small child at his locker dressed in a kid's White Sox jersey.

(Read full post)

White Sox get started on latest changes

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
10:41
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Chris BassittAP Photo/Matt MartonChris Bassitt gave up five runs on seven hits in his first major league start.

CHICAGO – A sluggish August for the Chicago White Sox has been a reminder that more roster tweaks are needed, even with activity already underway.

Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of a day/night doubleheader was mostly significant for the White Sox because of who wasn’t available. Alejandro De Aza was held out of the starting lineup with a trade in the works and before the fifth inning was complete, he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

The De Aza deal, combined with one that sent Gordon Beckham to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21, was not unlike rearranging the living room to create space for a potential new piece of furniture.

The second-base spot is first being handed to Carlos Sanchez, and perhaps Marcus Semien as well, over the final month. Micah Johnson will then have a say in second-base matters next spring.

As far as left field, it remains to be seen who the White Sox plant there first, but Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell could see time as potential September call-ups. Perhaps Semien plays in left, too. The White Sox can then decide if they like what they see in one of those options, elect to stay with Dayan Viciedo or go another route.

“There's opportunity there,” Hahn said about the left-field job. “There's opportunity for someone to step up and seize that job, and if not, it's something we'll be looking to explore filling in the offseason.”

By moving Beckham and De Aza before the season was complete, the White Sox also save short of $1 million on each, but combined that isn’t an insignificant amount of money. It makes even more financial sense when considering both were probably going to be cut loose as arbitration-eligible players who might not have been tendered contracts.

Both Beckham and De Aza were headed toward raises over the $4 million-plus each was making. Going off what those salaries are this season, the White Sox have another $8.4 million to work with. Then consider Adam Dunn's $15 million, Matt Lindstrom's $4 million and Paul Konerko's $2.5 million all come off the books for 2015. Ronald Belisario ($3 million) could be a non-tender candidate.

Money to spend is for the offseason, though. This next week is about young players getting their chance to audition for a roster that will have even more reinforcements soon.

“You are going to have some guys up here for those are positions that now have opportunities,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You are going to see some guys in there that are different than what we’ve had for the last couple of years. They are going to get a chance.”

Another player whose audition began Saturday night was right-hander Chris Bassitt, who gave up five runs on seven hits with four walks in 6⅓ innings. Bassitt will remain with the team through the rest of the season and could even get some starts over the final month.

“For a first time up here, I’m sure he’s real nervous, but besides the couple of innings there, he settled down and really kind of gathered it back together,” Ventura said. “It was nice to see -- he had a real live arm. For his first time, it’s intriguing. It’s one of those where you like what you see. He’s pretty young, so he’ll be up here in September, and we’ll see what we do.”

Bassitt not only got his first chance to pitch in the major leagues, but he also saw a major league teammate get traded for the first time, and it wasn’t lost on him that changes are happening, with multiple opportunities available.

“Yeah, I mean definitely,” Bassitt said. “You look at it as pretty much 'go out there and prove your worth from here on out' and just pretty much just try to go out there and compete as much as you can, just to show them that, ‘Hey, I can compete at this level.’ Not only that but, you deserve to be here. You have a little space for them to go and say: ‘Hey, this guy can make us win in the future.’”

Playoff rosters for contenders aren’t due to the league office until Sunday, so the White Sox still have time to make deals. Dunn could even get moved to a contender that needs some left-handed power.

“The deadline's 11 [p.m. CT Sunday], so we're going to have to keep working and exploring some opportunities,” Hahn said.

Another season of change has arrived in earnest.

Sox nemesis Chen cut loose by K.C.

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
7:43
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- There just weren’t enough Chicago White Sox lineups out there to keep pitcher Bruce Chen employed, as the left-hander was designated for assignment Friday by the Kansas City Royals.

Chen's mastery of the White Sox surfaced primarily over the past few years with the Royals. The soft-tossing 37-year-old has tied the White Sox in knots start after start.

Chen has an 8-5 career record against the White Sox with a 3.40 ERA over 129 2/3 innings. The only American League teams against which he has a lower ERA are the Astros (2.72), Royals (3.14) and Blue Jays (2.97); most of his innings against the Astros came when they were in the National League, and he has only two starts against the Royals.

Chen is a combined 8-2 against the White Sox over the past four seasons in 14 starts. Only once in those four seasons did he have an ERA over 3.12 against Chicago. He was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts against the Sox this year.

Paul Konerko has five career home runs against Chen, but even he has been reduced to a .222 (12-for-54) batting average against the lefty, while Alejandro De Aza is 4-for-18 (.222), Adam Eaton is 1-for-6 (.167), Tyler Flowers is 1-for-12 (.083) and Conor Gillaspie is 1-for-9 (.111).

Konerko: Regulars can't complain in Sept.

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
7:37
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- According to retiring captain Paul Konerko, any Chicago White Sox regular who complains about reduced playing time when rosters expand in September only needs to look in the mirror.

“If we didn’t want it to get to a situation in September where they were going to be calling up young guys, putting guys in, sitting down older guys, then we should be better in the standings,” Konerko said. “We should have earned that right and we haven’t done that. I don’t think anybody can take exception that. It’s kind of the way of the baseball world.”

It remains unclear who the White Sox will call up when rosters expand next week, although general manager Rick Hahn already has made it clear that Marcus Semien will be one of a handful of players.

As the White Sox entered play Wednesday on a seven-game losing streak, the late-season play is starting to resemble last season when a stagnant White Sox team finished with 99 losses. Konerko returned for one more year to get the taste of last year out of his mouth, and despite the team struggles again this year, he has been able to get some personal closure.

“I think so,” Konerko said. “I’ve never had the thought all year of, ‘Why did I do this?’ So that means to me that it was right. I think I would have probably had that thought that had I not come back.

“To me, the six-month season is where it’s at, so the closure will be when I wrap it up right and walk away from it knowing that not only the whole career but this year, I came, I showed up from spring training on, I worked the whole 7 months and gave it my all, and combined those with the other years, I walk away from it. I definitely have no regrets about coming back.”

The White Sox plan to honor Konerko during each of the 11 home games in September, even creating a Konerko seating section in the left-field stands. And with the White Sox out of playoff contention, Konerko’s bench role will be expanded so he gets more at-bats.

“We’ll see some lefties in there (in September) but I’m sure he’ll get a few more at-bats just for everybody’s sake,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s important to us to have him play quite a bit in that last weekend that we’re home if he can do it. If he can pull it off. I know a few of the days in a row that he has played (he’s been sore). I don’t know if we’ll get all four out of him, but we can get a few.”

The White Sox end the season with a four-game home series against the Kansas City Royals Sept. 25-28.

Konerko joked that four in a row might be pushing it.

“If they play me too much, I might demand a trade,” Konerko said with a smile. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It would take me a while to get in shape again. I play like two games in a row and I’m sore now.”

All kidding aside, Konerko knows that he has the rest of his days in retirement to recover from any excess soreness and is willing to play as much as Ventura requests.

“I caught probably as good of a manager as you could in this situation like mine,” Konerko said. “He’s a guy who played for a long time and had a career that was similar. He was a good guy to play underneath because I think he understands everything that I had to go through this year and I’m still going through.

He’s made it real easy for me. There’s not one thing he could do to me or not do for me. He’s good in my book forever. He definitely made this year a lot more fun for me and a lot better for me because he was the manager. Whatever he wants, I’ll do whatever he needs.”

Once the season ends, the first thing on Konerko’s docket is coaching … just not on the minor or major league level. He said he already has an assignment to coach his 6-year-old son’s youth fall league.

“Yeah, it’s all going to be about family and my kids and stuff,” Konerko said. “Baseball, come a month from now, will take a back seat to everything. If there is something inside me down the road that says ‘Hey, do you want to get involved in this?’ then maybe I’ll do it, but I can tell you, as I sit here today there is nothing inside me that says I will do anything (with coaching).”

Series preview: Indians at White Sox

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
3:01
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Seven more days remain before the Chicago White Sox will get some reinforcements in the form of September call-ups from the minor leagues.

General manager Rick Hahn has already suggested that the White Sox will call up five to eight players, with that set to happen after the current homestand is completed. That homestand begins Tuesday night with a three-game set against the Cleveland Indians, followed by a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers that includes a day/night doubleheader Saturday.

The dog days of August certainly seem to have taken their toll on the White Sox, who are fading fast. They are just 6-15 in August, after going 14-12 in July and will enter Tuesday night's game a season-high 12 games under .500 at 59-71.

Where the White Sox need the most help is in the bullpen. They are 13th in the 15-team American League in bullpen ERA at 4.41, 14th in save percentage at 60 percent and last in strikeouts from their relievers at 297.

The bullpen is operating without a left-hander, although that could change if they add Carlos Rodon to the mix next month. The team's first-round draft pick this June already has delivered two impressive outings at Triple-A Charlotte over the past week.

The expected number of reinforcements might be one player less since infielder Carlos Sanchez has already arrived, joining the team after Gordon Beckham was traded to the Los Angeles Angels last week. And Hahn already has said that infielder Marcus Semien will join the team on or after Sept. 1.

One year after being completely dominated by the Indians, when the White Sox went 2-17, they are a much-improved 8-5 against their division rivals, although each team has scored 58 runs in the season series.

HEAD TO HEAD



Indians rookie starter T.J. House faced the White Sox in his third career outing in May, giving up one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings of a game the White Sox eventually won. ... The White Sox's Jose Abreu is 3-for-9 against Indians starter Corey Kluber this season with a home run. ... The White Sox's Alejandro De Aza is 5-for-10 (.500) with two doubles and four RBIs against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. ... The Indians' Michael Brantley is 7-for-15 (.467) with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs against White Sox starter Jose Quintana. ... The Indians' Jason Kipnis is 0-for-10 with two strikeouts against White Sox starter Hector Noesi. ... The Indians' Ryan Raburn is 14-for-42 with five doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs against White Sox starter John Danks.

NOTES


Adam Eaton, who has been out since Aug. 9 with a strained right oblique, has been reinstated to the active roster. ... The White Sox are on a season-long six-game losing streak and they have also lost 13 of their last 17. ... Abreu has hit safely in nine of his last games and is batting .395 (15-for-38) over that stretch with two home runs and eight RBIs. ... De Aza is batting .354 (23-for-65) with six doubled and two RBIs over his last 18 games, hitting safely in 15 of them with seven multi-hit contests in that stretch. ... De Aza needs one hit for 500 in his career. ... Adam Dunn needs three home runs to tie Jose Canseco (462) for 34th on the all-time list, and needs two walks to tie Ken Griffey Jr. (1,312) for 41st on the all-time list. ... Paul Konerko needs one home run to tie Jason Giambi (44) for 41st on the all-time list. ... The Indians' Brantley is batting .100 (3-for-30) over his last eight games.

PITCHING MATCHUPS


Tuesday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.25 ERA) vs. Indians LH T.J. House (2-3, 3.80), 7:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (7-8, 4.39) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (13-7, 2.46), 7:10 p.m. CST
Thursday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-8, 4.96) vs. Indians RH Carlos Carrasco (5-4, 3.14), 7:10 p.m. CST

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.318 35 105 78
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 35
RBIJ. Abreu 105
RA. Ramirez 80
OPSJ. Abreu .971
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 2.20
SOC. Sale 198