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Grieving White Sox torched by Twins as Gavin Floyd allows 9 runs

Paul Konerko sports black eye his first game back since he was hit by pitch while facing Cubs last Friday.

Paul Konerko sports a black eye in his first game back since he was hit by a pitch while facing the Cubs last Friday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 2, 2012 10:04AM

Paul Konerko’s vision was back to normal Tuesday, and he was at his post for the White Sox at first base.

But something else had cleared his sight about the ups and downs of a baseball season, and life.

‘‘You know, sometimes life gets in the way of baseball and you see what’s really important,’’ he said before a 9-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins while still sporting the bruises of being struck in the face by a pitch Friday at Wrigley Field.

Hours earlier, Konerko was a pallbearer at the funeral of Kevin Hickey, the longtime batting-practice pitcher whose own Sox career had been a fantasy come true. Hickey’s death Friday at age 56 had not been unexpected. He had been in a coma since Opening Day, when he was found unresponsive in his hotel room in Texas. But it didn’t become real to the Sox until his wake Monday and funeral Tuesday.

The effect carried over into a dismal defeat against the Twins.

‘‘A lot of mental emotions before we got here,’’ Konerko admitted. ‘‘We did the best we could, but it just wasn’t there tonight.’’

The morning funeral had been difficult to go through.

‘‘It was tough to see the family. He’s got [five] daughters and grandkids and all that,’’ Konerko said of Hickey, a South Side native who suffered from diabetes. ‘‘For us, it’s been kind of surreal the last month because although we knew his condition and we knew what might happen, until it actually goes down and you’re at the funeral, it doesn’t make sense. It kind of still doesn’t.’’

There was a pregame video tribute to Hickey, with the Twins joining the Sox on the field for a moment of silence.

‘‘Today was a tough day to start, but we’re here to celebrate his life,’’ Sox starting pitcher Gavin Floyd said. ‘‘You try to do your job, but it wasn’t going to be tonight.’’

Floyd (3-5) didn’t get past the fourth inning, charged with all nine runs, including a three-run homer by Justin Morneau in the Twins’ five-run fourth.

The Sox scored in the first on Gordon Beckham’s solo home run off P.J. Walters (2-1) — Beckham’s third in the last four games — and in the ninth when Konerko (2-for-4) drove in a run with a ground out.

Walters went the distance, a first for a Twins pitcher this year.

The loss stung in multiple ways. It ended the Sox’ four-game win streak, kept them from going over .500 (21-22), dropped their home record to 7-13 and came against the team with baseball’s worst record (15-27).

‘‘We just got our [behinds] kicked, all the way around,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘[Floyd] was in and out of it today. It’s one of those things. You just put it behind you and come back tomorrow.’’

Ventura acknowledged the emotions of the day might have played a part:

‘‘We’ve been dealing with it all year, but maybe a little . . . the finality of it with Hick. Guys had been able to put it aside when they played . . . but it could be.

‘‘Now he’s gone, and it kind of hits home with everybody. I think everybody really appreciates things a little bit more, probably hug a few more people and tell them what they really think, because you just never know.’’

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