White Sox’ Paul Konerko will keep laying down the blunt
By JOE COWLEY email@example.com March 17, 2012 12:30AM
Paul Konerko, 36, is adamant he wants to finish his career with the Sox after a few more seasons, but recent remarks show he’s not going to hype the team as something it isn’t. | Marcio Jose Sanchez~AP
Updated: April 19, 2012 8:38AM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Read no further, White Sox marketing guru Brooks Boyer. Earmuffs, Sox ticket sales department.
Stop right here, devoted Sox fans sniffing around for some good vibes in spring camp to take into the regular season.
Paul Konerko has no problem remaining the face of the organization, but if the franchise expects him to somehow be their mouthpiece, well, then expect his blunt honesty to continue.
Entering his 14th season on the South Side, Konerko has raised some eyebrows the last few months with a pull-no-punches attitude in describing exactly where the Sox have fallen since their 2005 World Series run. If people within the organization or the fans were looking for some sort of apology, they might want to look elsewhere.
Back at SoxFest in January, Konerko said he didn’t blame Sox fans for not coming out this season because, ‘‘the honest truth is, since ’05, we’ve kind of slowly but surely just kind of given back [their trust] we earned steadily.’’
Early in spring camp, he said, ‘‘I hope I don’t throw anybody off with this, but this can be a very successful year without making the playoffs.’’
Asked this week if he knows that’s not what a team wants to hear from its players when it’s trying to sell tickets, Konerko said, ‘‘Yeah, well, I don’t know what to say about that.’’
Then he said plenty.
‘‘What I’ve learned with myself and some of the guys in here, and just kind of getting older, is that you play this game when you are more comfortable, when you are looser,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘The other thing I’ve learned is that you certainly don’t play better when you put insane amounts of pressure on yourself, personally or as a team.
‘‘I’ve never seen that work yet. I’ve done it a good part of my life, and I haven’t seen it work. So I think it’s OK sometimes, whether you are a pitcher or a hitter, to say, ‘Right now I don’t have it, so this is a good day for me if I go out and do this.’ It doesn’t always have to be . . . the ultimate — sometimes you just have to build on things. That’s all I was saying. It’s pretty simple. Where we are as a team, the makeup of the roster, it just didn’t feel like it fell into the either/or category.’’
With last year’s team, the way it was constructed, Konerko was fine with pass/fail pressure. But with this current group?
“I mean, if Addison Reed throws the ball great, if Chris Sale become a great starter, if Gordon [Beckham], Brent Morel have really solid years and we don’t make the playoffs, and it’s a bad year?’’ Konerko said. ‘‘Bull[crap]. I just don’t think that’s fair to say that. If anybody can’t see my point, well, I think it’s pretty easy to wrap your head around.’’
If people think Konerko, at 36, is just saying this because he’s looking for a ticket out of town to a contender, think again. He says he wants to stay with the Sox for the rest of his career, whether that means when his deal runs out after 2013 or even beyond.
‘‘When I came up with the Dodgers, that was my only goal, because I always felt that if you stay with a team for 10 to 15 years, that’s kind of hard to do,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘If you did that, then everything else would come with that. You must be doing your job. All the little things, all the peripheral things that are important, would be included. And I just think it would be cool to spend as much time as I have with one team. To play even a couple more years, even better.
‘‘I just think that there are so many statistics in the game now — this guy hit this many home runs — but being with one team for, say, like 15 years, I will be more proud of that than any other stat that I could have accumulated.’’
And expect the real-talk to continue along the way.