Paul Konerko to DL, but Jordan Danks’ HR helps Sox walk off pain
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com August 10, 2012 11:10PM
Chicago White Sox's Jordan Danks, right, celebrates his game-winning home run off Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Pat Neshek with Gordon Beckham during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Chicago. Chicago won 4-3. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: September 12, 2012 6:10AM
It was gut-check time for the White Sox after they lost their cleanup hitter, captain and clubhouse leader at the worst possible time Friday.
And at the best possible moment, rookie Jordan Danks hit the first home run of his career, a two-out, 421-foot shot in the ninth inning to give the Sox a 4-3 victory against the Oakland Athletics before 25,041 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
‘‘Everyone’s dreaming about that their whole life,’’ Danks said. ‘‘Right before that, I saw myself doing that. I just got all the shaving cream [from teammate Alexei Ramirez] out of my nose and eyes so I can breathe again.’’
One elbow upside the face Tuesday night led to first baseman Paul Konerko being put on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion before Friday’s game, leaving the Sox an important test to pass as they attempt to hold off the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central.
So far, so good.
Needed relief will arrive Saturday from Class AAA Charlotte, likely in the form of Dan Johnson or Conor Jackson. Without Konerko, Alex Rios returned after missing a game with a stiff back and batted fourth in Konerko’s place. Adam Dunn played first base and Dayan Viciedo was the designated hitter, leaving left field open for Danks.
‘‘It’s not going to be easy not having [Konerko] in the lineup, but this is the best thing for him, to get him back to full strength,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘We have to find a way for guys like Jordan Danks to come through for us.’’
Danks’ blast into the right-field seats against A’s reliever Pat Neshek was one of four solo shots by the Sox. A.J. Pierzynski, Ramirez and Viciedo hit theirs against starter Brandon McCarthy. Pierzynski’s 22 homers are the most by a Sox catcher since Carlton Fisk hit 23 in 1987.
Konerko had taken an elbow to the right temple area from the Kansas City Royals’ Jarrod Dyson during the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s loss at home. Dyson’s left elbow made contact as Konerko, his body positioned toward right field, received a throw from second baseman Gordon Beckham, who had made a diving stop of Dyson’s grounder.
Ventura and trainer Herm Schneider checked Konerko, who remained in the game and struck out in the eighth. After sitting out Wednesday’s loss to the Royals, Konerko was re-examined Friday. The seven-day DL stint was specially created by Major League Baseball for concussions.
Ventura sensed something of an emotional letdown Wednesday, with Rios and Konerko sitting. The Sox looked dazed without their leader.
‘‘A little,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘It ends up flat when two of your better players are out of the lineup, but you tip your hat and go from there. It’s different than a normal game when you can put your thumb on the temperature on the team. It will be different not having a guy like Paul in there.
“He seems fine, but talking to him and having to go play is two different things.’’
A six-time All-Star, Konerko is batting .316 with 18 homers and 54 RBI. Johnson, the left-handed former Tampa Bay Ray with a flair for the dramatic home run, hit his 26th for Charlotte on Friday night.
Sox starter Gavin Floyd improved Friday after giving up a two-run homer to Brandon Moss in the second inning and escaping a bases-loaded jam in the third. He gave up three runs in six-plus innings.