Paul Konerko: 2012 still a success
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com September 30, 2012 9:42PM
Sox manager Robin Ventura bows his head in the late innings of the Chicago White Sox 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday September 30, 2012 at US Cellular Field. The Sox lost three of four to the Rays and fell three games behind the Tigers for the Central Division lead. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 2, 2012 6:19AM
In late February, Paul Konerko raised eyebrows when he said the season could be a success if the White Sox didn’t make the playoffs.
With three games to play, missing the postseason would be a disappointment after the team spent 117 days in first place before tanking at the finish. And Konerko is standing by what he said.
“There are things that went on this year that just can’t be denied as far as positives,’’ Konerko said. “Anybody who was here at the end of last year, and coming here with just the overall [new] feeling in here … and the young guys’ performances. There’s a lot of things mapped out for years to come here, which is huge.
“This was just leaps and bounds in a 12-month span to have the things that happened regardless of making the playoffs, so it’s really an unbelievable makeover when you think about it.”
So far, so good
Manager Robin Ventura’s first season has been a lot of things: pleasantly surprising, educational and agonizing down the disappointing stretch. He made it clear Sunday that it has been enjoyable, too.
“Yeah, absolutely,’’ Ventura said. “I enjoy the people I work with, the guys on the team, what they’ve done. So that part’s been fun.”
Ventura won’t win the American League manager of the year award — Buck Showalter of the Orioles and Bob Melvin of the Athletics are favored — but he was under consideration while the Sox spent most of the season in first place.
“The hard part is you’re always thinking,’’ Ventura said. “If one guy’s doing well, somebody else might not be. You’re always thinking that way. You’re thinking of 25 guys instead of just what you have to do. That’s the hard part. The easy part is that you enjoy coming to the ballpark. It’s easy to get up and get ready to come to the ballpark.”
Ventura signed a three-year contract, and he reiterated what he told the Sun-Times the day before: “I plan on being here for two more years, yes. Unless they don’t want me to be here.”
Right-hander Jake Peavy will be a free agent for the first time in his career when the Sox opt out of the final $22 million option year in his contract and pay a $4 million buyout instead.
But Peavy hopes to return provided the sides can reach what he believes is a fair offer.
An unusual circumstance could surround negotiations because Peavy’s longtime agent, Barry Axelrod, no longer will be representing him.
Axelrod is taking a position with the Arizona Diamondbacks. His close friend Kevin Towers is the general manager.
Peavy is weighing whether to handle his negotiations himself.
‘‘I love Chicago and this team,’’ Peavy said. “I hope we’ll be able to work something out.’’
This and that
Sunday’s 26,831 paid attendance brought the season total to 1,965,955, the first time since 2004 the Sox were under 2 million. Attendance has declined six consecutive seasons, the first time that’s happened since 1965-70.
◆ Nate Jones allowed a run for the first time in 21 appearances.
Contributing: Toni Ginnetti