Ventura says Konerko will talk about future when he’s ready
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter September 17, 2013 10:46PM
Updated: September 18, 2013 12:16AM
The subject came up again, and Paul Konerko fouled it off the same way he has so many two-strike sliders on the outside corner during the course of his career.
Next pitch, please. And next question.
This time, the question wasn’t about whether this season will be his last but about when he might decide.
Same topic, still off-limits.
Konerko’s contract is up after the season, his 15th in a uniform that no doubt will be retired when he decides his career is over. Fan favorite, team captain, the last
beloved connection to the 2005 World Series and the No. 2 home-run hitter and RBI guy in White Sox history. And a class act, too.
The man deserves his space.
‘‘I was kind of the same way,’’ manager Robin Ventura said Tuesday, reflecting on the twilight of his playing career. ‘‘Just because somebody comes and asks you a fifth time doesn’t mean that’s going to be the time to say it. When he decides one way or another what he’s going to do, he’ll let people know.’’
Never a knee-jerk decision-
maker, Konerko, 37, likely will go home to his family to think things over, though it’s possible he already knows what he wants to do. If he was ready to retire, he probably would have indicated it by now.
Ventura, a former player, knows it’s tough to walk away.
‘‘It is,’’ he said. ‘‘Even if you’re ready, it’s tough. When you’ve been doing this pretty much your whole adult life, whether you’re frustrated with it or doing well at it, it
becomes harder to know you’re
going to be [retiring].
‘‘I knew toward the end of my last year that I wasn’t coming back. It wasn’t like with Paulie. People want him to do a press conference.’’
Complicating the issue is Konerko’s production, which hasn’t been Konerko-like since the All-Star break in 2012. Entering play Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, he was batting .247 with 11 home runs, 52 RBI, 38 runs scored and a .317 on-base percentage in 485 plate appearances. On the plus side, he was hitting .309 (21-for-68) in his last 19 games. Back to the minus side, only five of Konerko’s hits during that span were for extra bases.
A major-league scout who has been watching the Sox put it this way: ‘‘I don’t think Konerko is going to help them anymore.’’
That’s not to say Konerko has no value; it’s just that first base is a spot that commands bigger numbers. Konerko knows that, but it says here he won’t make a decision that won’t be beneficial to the Sox. He might play one more season, perhaps in a somewhat reduced role that includes mentoring a young team.
Ventura said part of the process in making a decision is having a
realistic view of your skill set.
‘‘He knows he’s not the guy he was 15 years ago, but he’s very productive in the middle of the lineup,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I don’t know if it’s as much the physical stuff. The mental stuff can be more real than the physical stuff.’’
Ventura said he expects Konerko to take time to figure it all out after the season is over.
‘‘We haven’t talked about it
[recently],’’ Ventura said. ‘‘We talked about it awhile ago. He’s the kind of guy that if he wants to talk about it, he’ll talk about it. I would imagine he would probably take a little time.’’