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Tag:Paul Konerko
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Sox choice of Robin Ventura innovative, shocking

Leave it to the Chicago White Sox and general manager Kenny Williams to zig when everyone else thinks they'll zag, to take the path through the woods when everyone else is looking at the paved roads.

The White Sox picked a manager Thursday straight out of left field, a guy who has never been in a major-league dugout as a skipper or as a coach.

But you know what? Because Robin Ventura was in the dugout for 2,079 games as a player, and because of who he is, the choice is perfect.

Ventura was in a White Sox uniform for 1,254 of those games. He was a player's player, beloved in the clubhouse. He knows the White Sox. He's popular in Chicago. -- maybe moreso than Ozzie Guillen was (though not as loud, not nearly as loud).

Can he manage? We'll find out.

This is one of those hires that could turn out to be out-of-the-box brilliant ... or a spectacular failure.

 I will say this: Last time the White Sox named a manager who had never called the shots in a big league game, they won a World Series title. His name was Ozzie Guillen.

Consider this another promotion from the White Sox Alumni Club (Ventura will become the 17th former White Sox player to manage the club). There are no guarantees that it will work, but say this for owner Jerry Reinsdorf: He's been around a long time and the guy appreciates -- and facilitates -- White Sox tradition.

The biggest names in the Sox rumor mill were two highly respected coaches, Davey Martinez of Tampa Bay and Sandy Alomar Jr. in Cleveland. If Chicago was going with a rookie manager, why not Ventura? He knows the players very well, he knows the Chicago media, he knows the South Side terrain.

Ventura had been working as a special assistant to director of player development Buddy Bell since June. Every GM has special assistants, but I've never heard of a director of player development having one.

But that's what savvy GMs do: They stash talented people in their organization, because you never know when, say, an Ozzie will wear out his welcome.

Williams, on a late afternoon conference call Thursday, called Ventura "one of the classiest people I've ever met in the game." The GM, while admitting this was an unexpected development, said he interviewed Ventura from 1994-1998, when Williams worked in player development and Ventura was the White Sox third baseman.

"He just didn't know it," Williams said.

Among the criteria Williams listed that Ventura fit: "A passion for the city, for the organization and the drive to win a World Series championship. This person had to have leadership and communicative ability, I think, that will work with our veteran players and with our young players."

Will that lead to managerial brilliance? Who knows?

"I have a passion for it, I have a passion for this team and this city," Ventura said on the conference call. "the passion is there to do it. I was asked to do it. I'm honored to have this opportunity."

Ventura, 44, has a lot in common with White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko in terms of character, baseball acumen and blue-collar work ethic. Clearly, after the rifts in the organization that developed under Williams and Guillen, Ventura is a uniter, not a divider. Which is exactly what the Sox need.

Now, if he can just get Adam Dunn to hit ...

Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:35 am
 

Konerko sixth to 2,000 hits this season

ANAHEIM, Calif -- Highlights have been few and far between for the 2011 Chicago White Sox, but Paul Konerko put up one for the books when he cracked his 2,000th career hit in the eighth inning of Tuesday's series opener here.

The hit surely was especially meaningful to Konerko in that it was an RBI single against Ervin Santana that tied the game at 4-4 at a point in the season where the White Sox are desperate for every run, every win they can get. Konerko, a beloved figure on Chicago's South Side and widely respected throughout the game, becomes only the 13th player in club history to collect his 2,000th hit.

It's been a boom season for the 2,000-hit club: Konerko is the sixth man to join that club this summer. Previously this summer, Houston's Carlos Lee, San Francisco's Orlando Cabrera (then with the Indians), Cincinnati's Scott Rolen, St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Texas' Michael Young each collected his 2,000th hit.

The White Sox dugout immediately erupted in cheers, then most of the players began waving for the baseball as soon as the play concluded with Alejandro De Aza crossing the plate. With the game 4-4, White Sox manager removed Konerko, who was DHing, for pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge.

Konerko also is at 393 career homers and soon could become only the sixth active player with 400 homers and 2,000 hits, joining Pujols, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta's Chipper Jones, Baltimore's Vladimir Guerrero and Minnesota's Jim Thome.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 2:51 pm
 

Crain lands with Sox, learns Konerko no jerk

PHOENIX -- From inside of the White Sox clubhouse, things look a whole lot different to reliever Jesse Crain than they did from the outside the past few seasons.

"Things are going great," Crain says. "I'm getting along with the guys real well. They have a great bunch of guys here.

"You never look at it that way from the other side. You think they're a bunch of jerks."

When you cross the Great Divide in a bitter rivalry, sometimes that happens.

Crain spent the past seven seasons working on the other side of the AL Central, in the Minnesota Twins' bullpen.

Now with the White Sox, some of the right-hander's perceptions are changing.

"Because of the rivalry, I never really knew anybody over here," Crain says. "We didn't really talk before games. Usually, with every team you know a couple of guys. But not with these guys. The only guy I kind of knew was Mark Teahen, because I played on Team Canada with him."

So. From the Twins' side, which White Sox did Crain view as perhaps the biggest jerk (or two)?

"I thought Paul Konerko was, for some reason," Crain says. "And we all know about A.J. Pierzynski."

Crain and Pierzynski, though, have one thing in common: They each cut their teeth in the Twins' organization.

But Konerko as a jerk? Really? He's considered as one of the game's class acts.

"I don't even know why I thought that about Paulie," Crain says. "I never got to first base, of course, so I never talked to him there. I was always facing him, and I'd see him get mad when things didn't go well at the plate.

"But this guy's a ballplayer. He's tough. He's soft spoken. He's the Captain.

"I think [learning that Konerko is not a jerk] has been my biggest shock. I haven't even told him that yet."

No need anymore, Jesse. Allow us to take care of that right now.

Posted on: December 9, 2010 7:23 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 7:25 pm
 

Winter meetings: Parting shots

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If I hear one more plastic Christmas song over the irritating speakers here at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort before heading to the Mouse City Airport for the trip home, I'm going to. ...

Sorry, lost my head there for a moment.

What I meant to say was, a couple of quick parting thoughts as the Winter Meetings wrap up. ...

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

Red Sox: It's not even close. The acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford make them more dangerous

RUNNERS-UP

White Sox: In U.S. Cellular Field, the country-strong Adam Dunn might hit 75 homers (OK, so I exaggerate, but just a bit). In the returning Paul Konerko, the White Sox have their soul back. Another nicely done job by the ultra-aggressive general manager Kenny Williams, his right-hand man Rick Hahn and, yes, owner Jerry Reinsdorf in arranging the funding to bring in both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.

Diamondbacks: Turn new GM Kevin Towers loose for his first winter meetings in charge of the D-backs, and already Arizona's bullpen -- historically bad in 2010 -- is better. The Snakes signed J.J. Putz to close and acquired Daniel Hernandez and Kam Mickolio from the Orioles. And clearly, that's just the start.

LOSERS

Rays: The mass exodus has begun for the poor Rays. Left fielder Carl Crawford signed with Boston (seven years, $142 million), first baseman Carlos Pena with the Cubs (one year, $10 million), set-up man Joaquin Benoit with Detroit (three years, $16.5 million), shortstop Jason Bartlett was traded to San Diego and free agent closer Rafael Soriano is on deck to leave.

Of the eight pitchers who threw the most relief innings for manager Joe Maddon last year, seven of them are free agents. And of the total number of relief innings pitched, those seven accounted for 78 percent of those innings. Yikes.

Orioles: Not only did AL East-rival Boston become exponentially better, but the Orioles were stonewalled every which way they turned looking to acquire a first baseman (Pena, Dunn, Konerko). Then outfielder Luke Scott showed up at the winter meetings and shot his mouth off in a Yahoo Sports interview that started about his deer hunting and wound up with Scott saying he thought President Obama was born outside of the United States and that Obama "does not represent America. Nor does he represent anything what our forefathers stood for." The Orioles rushed to put out a news release distancing the club from Scott's comments. Not exactly your typical winter meetings strategy. On the other hand, the Orioles finally got a shortstop by acquiring J.J. Hardy from the Twins, and a third baseman by acquiring Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks.

Athletics: Reminiscent of Baltimore back in the day when then-GM Syd Thrift became so flustered at failing to land impact free agents that he said if was as he were trying to spend Confederate money. It was like that for Oakland when free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre essentially ignored a five-year, $64 million offer until the A's pulled it. Oakland also lost designated hitter Jack Cust, who signed with Seattle. The A's are desperate for offense. They likely will wind up with free agent DH Hideki Matsui, who is earnest and hard-working but can't play much anymore, or Vladimir Guerrero if he doesn’t return to Texas.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 10:52 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:11 pm
 

White Sox wrap up Konerko deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It didn't carry the drama of Derek Jeter's talks with the Yankees, but in his own way, Paul Konerko has similar meaning to the White Sox. And now that will continue: Konerko and the White Sox have agreed to terms, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

It is a three-year deal worth $37.5 million. Konerko will be paid $12 million in 2011, another $12 million in 2012 and $13.5 million in 2013, though only $6.5 million is in straight salary in '13, with the rest deferred at $1 million a year over the next seven years.

If the Adam Dunn deal fleetingly looked like it could spell the end for Konerko in Chicago, who has been a fixture at first base on the South Side since 1999, the White Sox made sure to communicate to him nearly as soon as the four-year, $56 million deal with Dunn was done that they wanted him back.

"When I talk about Paul Konerko, I first have to talk about the first-class person he is," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. "Believe me, that factors into our equation when we make a commitmentof this nature.

"One thing Craig Landis [Konerko's agent] and I talk about all the time is the type of guy he is not just on the field, but in the clubhouse, on the team bus, in the hotel.

"This is certainly about talent, but the message to young players out there is if you conduct yourself in this type of manner, something like this could happen."

Though talks briefly turned rocky Tuesday, it has been considered a fait accompli that Konerko would return to Chicago. He is one of owner Jerry Reinsdorf's favorite players, and he's been a cornerstone of the franchise for more than a decade.

"Paul Konerko has good teammates," Williams said. "One thing that helped us get this done was Adam Dunn caring more about winning than about getting the last dollar this year. He was more than accommodating in moving some of his money to the back of his deal. A.J. Pierzynski did the same thing."

Konerko had talked with a handful of other clubs, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.
The D-backs were hoping that the fact that Konerko lives in Scottsdale might sway him in their direction.

"I think he would have looked awfully funny in another uniform at this point," Williams said.

At 34, Konerko is coming off of his strongest season in years in 2010. An All-Star for the fourth time, Konerko slammed 39 home runs and collected 111 RBI in '10, his best power numbers since 2005-2006. He also hit .312 with a .393 on-base percentage. He was fourth in the AL with a .977 OPS and finished fifth in this year's AL MVP balloting.

Konerko and Dunn are both expected to see time at first base and designated hitter.

As for the White Sox, Williams says they're about "tapped out" money-wise. He intends to add bullpen help, but that likely will be via trades.

"We'll take a look at a third left-handed situational guy," said Williams, who already has lefties Matt Thornton and Chris Sale in the pen. "Someone who can get Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer [of the Twins] out."

Posted on: December 7, 2010 3:00 pm
 

Cubs targeting 1B Adam LaRoche

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Looking to plug their hole at first base, the Cubs are targeting free agent Adam LaRoche, according to CBSSports.com sources.

There are several available first basemen on the market, including Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman, Paul Konerko (who is widely expected to agree to terms with the White Sox soon), Lyle Overbay and former Cub Derrek Lee.

The Cubs, who essentially created this opening when they traded Lee to Atlanta last summer, have talked with several of them but would like to close the deal with LaRoche soon.

Pena is being courted by the Nationals and Diamondbacks, among other clubs.

LaRoche, 31, played in 151 games for Arizona last season, hitting .261 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI. He compiled a .320 on-base percentage and a .468 slugging percentage.

The seven-year veteran broke into the majors with Atlanta in 2004 and since has played for Pittsburgh, Boston and Arizona.

Currently, the Cubs' only option at first base is Tyler Colvin, who had a big rookie season at the plate in 2010 (.254, 20 homers, 54 RBI in 135 games) while spending all of his time in the outfield.

Looking to re-tool last season's highly disappointing club under new manager Mike Quade, the Cubs this winter need a first baseman and are planning to add pitching depth -- a starting or relieving, whichever comes their way and makes the most sense.

Posted on: October 6, 2008 11:08 pm
 

"We got every ounce out of this team. ..."

CHICAGO -- When their remarkable run of winning when they had to was finally finished, there were no tears in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. At least, none that were visible.

Maybe it was simply sheer exhaustion as their wild, two-week sprint to out-race time finally expired. Maybe there was comfort in knowing that, yet again, they had out-shined the crosstown Cubs (check this out: In the White Sox's last two postseason appearances, they've won 12 games. In the Cubs' past two postseason appearances, they've won zero).

Most likely, however, it simply was accepting the reality of what was.

"We feel we can hold our heads high," first baseman Paul Konerko said in a subdued and disappointed -- but not distraught -- clubhouse. "We got every ounce out of this team that we could."

Konerko -- and others in the room -- mentioned the absence due to injury of "shoo-in MVP" Carlos Quentin, third baseman Joe Crede and starter Jose Contreras. But it was more matter-of-fact. It wasn't in a whiny, searching-for-excuses manner.

"We did our best," Konerko said. "We just ran out of gas."

General manager Kenny Williams said he will step back and let a bit of time pass -- "get away from the moment" -- before assessing everything and again assembling a club "that's going to give you a run for your money."

The one saving grace of this season, Williams said, was the fact that many of the new White Sox who weren't around for the 2005 World Series run learned what the postseason is like. Guys like Alexei Ramirez, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Josh Fields, Jerry Owens and reliever Matt Thornton.

"We have a new core," Williams said. "That's one of the things we've tried to do, rebuild and compete at the same time, have the new core learn from the World Series core, add to the puzzle for sustained success.

"In that respect, that might be the only happy thing standing here today. Our young guys got some major, major playoff experience."

Williams perhaps was most pleased that this particular White Sox club showed him some fight and, in that respect, he and his manager were thinking alike.

"We played hard," Ozzie Guillen said. "I feel proud of my ballplayers. We went through a lot of tough times. One thing nobody can take away from us is we fight every day. We fight every day."

Guillen said he spoke with his players after Tampa Bay ended their season, telling them "make sure you keep your head up, feel proud of yourself, walk on the street with your head up and feel proud of what (you) did.

"It's not an easy season for us, but we do a lot of nice things for this organization and for the players."

In beating Cleveland, Detroit (rain makeup) and Minnesota (one-game playoff) last week, the Sox became the first big league team ever to defeat three different teams in three days, all while being on the verge of elimination.

Then they beat Tampa Bay here in Game 3 on Sunday, again while facing elimination. As their run progressed, the White Sox appeared to thrive on the pressure.

"Most of us said a couple of weeks ago that if we don't make the playoffs, let's not let it be because we're tight," Konerko said.

And, in the end, they didn't lose because they were tight.

Their season simply ran out because they weren't quite good enough -- especially in the end, playing without injured outfielder Carlos Quentin, third baseman Joe Crede and starter Jose Contreras. And for a team that, this spring, was an afterthought behind Detroit and Cleveland, there's no shame in that.

"All in all, when I look back at this year, I think we went exactly as far as we were supposed to go," Konerko said.

Likes: Late night at at Giordano's Pizza on Rush St. Sunday following a day with the White Sox and Rays. Fabulous deep-dish sausage pizza at the bar watching an even more fabulous Angels-Red Sox game from Boston. ... The good people who have worked in Tampa Bay's organization for so long finally getting to enjoy a winner.

Dislikes: Just how many Viagra commercials must we endure this postseason?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Who's the man who hired all the criminals
"The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
"They bend the facts to fit with their new stories
"Of why we have to send our men to war"

-- Neil Young, Let's Impeach the President

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com