White Sox exceeded many expectations, but late collapse still hurts
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN October 4, 2012 10:40PM
Paul Konerko of the White Sox looks at his left hand after being hit by a pitch in the ninth inning at U.S. Cellular Field Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: November 6, 2012 6:28AM
White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko will return home Friday to Scottsdale, Ariz., after having surgery to remove a loose body from his left wrist Thursday.
Mark Cohen, the Sox’ hand and wrist specialist, performed the procedure with assistance from John Fernandez and Charles Bush-Joseph of Midwest Orthopedics.
Konerko, 36, will have sutures removed from his wrist in seven to 10 days and a follow-up examination by a team specialist in Glendale, Ariz. Konerko, who made the decision in June to have the procedure done after the season, is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the start of spring training.
Konerko batted .298 with 26 home runs and 75 RBI.
KONERKO HAS SURGERY
The Detroit Tigers were heavy favorites to win the American League Central and the White Sox were picked by Sports Illustrated to lose 95 games, a combination that left the Sox’ marketing department telling its fan base to ‘‘appreciate the game.’’
In other words, think small.
But when the Tigers weren’t playing up to expectations, the Sox played just well enough to enjoy first place for 117 days. As recently as three weeks ago, the Tigers were all but saying: ‘‘You want this? Go ahead, take it. It’s yours.’’
You know what happened next: The Sox declined the offer. In the context of what was expected during spring training, 2012 was a success. But wasting a three-game lead (thanks to a 2-10 slide) after beating the Tigers on Sept. 17 only can be characterized as disappointing.
Let’s talk this through:
Yes, Captain, you did raise eyebrows on your first day at spring training
‘‘I hope I don’t throw anybody off with this, but this can be a very successful year without making the playoffs.’’
‘‘It caught me off-guard. I really wasn’t expecting it. It’s a tough pill to swallow.’’
— Prized lefty Chris Sale, who was unhappy about being taken out of the starting rotation after he reported tenderness in his elbow May 4. He returned to the rotation and made the AL All-Star team.
Changing his Sox
‘‘Here, you play, the game’s over with and there’s no drama questions all the time. It’s fun. But we’re also second fiddle to the Cubs. So it’s great. It’s easy, and [manager] Robin [Ventura] is laid-back.’’
— Kevin Youkilis on July 16, after getting traded from the Red Sox
Where is everybody?
‘‘It’s disappointing, I can tell you that. It’s disappointing when you come home in late August playing another first-place team [New York Yankees], a team you could potentially play in the playoffs. If you have 20,000 people here, that’s not something you are excited about.’’
— Pitcher Jake Peavy, on crowds averaging 26,042 for a series against the Yankees in August. The Sox drew fewer than 2 million fans for the first time since 2004.
They let it slip away
‘‘All we had to do was take care of business, and we wouldn’t be sitting here in this position.’’
–General manager Ken Williams, on the last day of the season
by the numbers
This season marked the second time the Sox had five players with 25 or more home runs:
Magglio Ordonez 38
Frank Thomas 28
Paul Konerko 27
Carlos Lee 26
Jose Valentin 25
Adam Dunn 41
A.J. Pierzynski 27
Paul Konerko 26
Alex Rios 25
Dayan Viciedo 25
Teams with five or more players with 25 or more homers in big-league history:
1956 Reds 5
1977 Red Sox 5
1996 Orioles 5
1997 Rockies 5
2000 Angels 5
2002 White Sox 5
2003 Red Sox 6
2005 Rangers 5
2009 Yankees 5
2011 Rangers 5
2012 White Sox 5
.203The Sox hit .272 with runners in scoring position, the fifth-best mark in the majors. But they hit only .203 in that situation in their last 27 games.