Rival Twins pay tribute to retiring Paul Konerko
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter September 3, 2014 10:31PM
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- White Sox announce ‘Paul Konerko Day’ Sept. 27
Updated: October 5, 2014 7:50AM
MINNEAPOLIS — If it wasn’t soaking in for Paul Konerko that it’s almost over, it has to be now that the tributes are beginning to trickle in.
Shortly after the White Sox announced a “Paul Konerko Day” on Sept. 27, the team’s second-to-last day of the season, the Twins’ Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins acknowledged his final appearance in Minneapolis by presenting the retiring captain with a big bottle of vintage 2005 (that championship season) wine and a $10,000 check for Konerko’s Children’s Home + Aid Bring Me Home Campaign before the Twins’ 11-4 victory on Wednesday night.
Only the Cubs (a “14” sign from the Wrigley Field scoreboard handed to him by Jeff Samardzija) and Yankees (a base signed by the team and presented by Derek Jeter) were in gift-giving moods before the Twins, but it’s possible AL Central rivals from Cleveland, Kansas City and Detroit will follow suit on upcoming road trips.
“The Central means a lot more,’’ Konerko said. “That’s not to take away from the other places, but I’ll always be an American League guy and an American League Central guy. There have been a lot of battles against the Twins over the years and a lot of games against Joe and Perk so it was nice those two guys were out there. Above and beyond the $10,000 to the Children’s Aid will go to good use — and at some point the wine will go to good use — it’s really nice.’’
A pregame tribute for Konerko for that last Saturday night game of the season against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field should be really nice, too. It will celebrate his career and “legacy on and off the field in franchise history,’’ the team announced. The Sox are ramping up the Konerko kudos stream with fan giveaways at all remaining home games and have set up a “Club Konerko” area in Sections 158 and 159.
Konerko, 38, the franchise’s No. 2 home-run hitter and RBI producer behind Frank Thomas, is playing in a limited role in his 16th consecutive season with the Sox. A career .279 hitter, Konerko is batting .220 with five homers and 22 RBI in 202 plate appearances, including 5-for-35 over his last 14 games. He is at peace with retiring and has no regrets he decided to play one more season.
“I don’t think there is any question that it should end now,’’ Konerko told the Sun-Times last week. “The question was, should it have gone on for another year or would it have been just as right a year ago. I’m the only one who can know that and for me I know the answer is ‘I should have come back for a lot of reasons.’ ’’
The adulation wasn’t one of them. Konerko enjoys it, but doesn’t revel in it, so the modest amount it has generated — in stark contrast to what the retiring Jeter has received — is just fine with him. All he wants is to soak in every last moment.
“I understand the games are dwindling and the home games are dwindling,’’ Konerko said. “I don’t know what you can do except try to always have a fun, good day.’’
Sox left-hander John Danks (9-10, 5.12) had anything but Wednesday, getting roughed up for seven runs on 11 hits over 4 2/3 innings. Dayan Viciedo hit his second homer in two nights for the Sox, who trailed 10-3 in the sixth after Kennys Vargas belted a 429-foot home run against lefty Scott Snodgress — who was making his major-league debut.