Dale Sveum says Paul Konerko is slump-proof
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com June 17, 2012 10:52PM
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left) can’t make the play on Starlin Castro’s double. | AP
Updated: July 19, 2012 6:21AM
On the eve of the second round of the crosstown series, Cubs manager Dale Sveum spoke a bit about the White Sox and Paul Konerko.
‘‘Obviously, they’re doing a nice job there, but we’re worried day in and day out about us,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘We know there will be a different atmosphere playing the White Sox, especially after getting swept here [in May].’’
A former hitting coach, Sveum has great respect for Paul Konerko, who leads the American League in batting average and lived near Sveum’s Phoenix-area home for a time.
‘‘His mechanics don’t allow him to fall into slumps, and he’s a great fastball hitter,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘You don’t fall into slumps when you can still hit the fastball. He’s one of those unbelievably professional hitters who comes around once in a while.’’
The Cubs will face three right-handed starters against the Sox with lefty Chris Sale being skipped for the series. That’s a break for the Cubs because Sale has emerged as one of baseball’s best starters.
Going into the series finale against the Red Sox, the Cubs were only 3-14 against left-handed starters, including a 4-3 loss Saturday against Jon Lester. They faced another lefty, Franklin Morales, on Sunday night.
‘‘It’s almost a fluke,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘I thought it would be a strength because we have a lot of right-handed hitters who have done well in their careers against lefties. But Saturday, we got a three-run homer from the only left-handed batter [Luis Valbuena] in the lineup. We need to get more crooked numbers like that from our right-handed hitters. We’re getting hits, just not scoring runs.’’
Geovany Soto (left-knee arthroscopy) could be back with the Cubs on Monday, but they might keep Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger , as well, and make another roster move.
‘‘It’s still to be determined, but it’s a possibility for a little bit because Clevenger is so versatile,’’ Sveum said of carrying three catchers.
Clevenger, who also bats left-handed, took ground balls at third base during batting practice.
While Soto returns, third baseman Ian Stewart (left-wrist soreness) will see a specialist Monday at the Cleveland Clinic to diagnose his injury.
Meanwhile, catcher Koyie Hill declined a minor-league assignment and accepted his release.