Different ballgame awaits Paul Konerko in final year
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter February 19, 2014 7:05PM
Updated: March 21, 2014 3:42PM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — All position players are due for the White Sox’ first full-squad workout Thursday. Paul Konerko, who typically doesn’t come in early, will be one of the last Sox to officially report. He will be preparing for his final season when he arrives.
This last spring training will be different for Konerko as a part-time player expected to be the designed hitter against lefties. So will the regular season.
‘‘Any time a guy is going to have less at-bats, it’s tougher to do it than say it,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘Even for Paul. I did it myself. You say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be fine with it,’ but it’s different. It’s a new way to go about it. It’s a new way how you are perceived on the team and how you interact and do things.’’
Konerko ranks second on the Sox’ all-time list behind Frank Thomas in homers (427), RBI (1,361) and total bases (3,944).
You are looking live
Some pitchers, including ace Chris Sale, threw live batting practice for the first time Wednesday. A lot of hitters take pitches to try to get a feel for seeing the ball, so it’s not exactly mano a mano.
‘‘Arm felt good, felt loose and ready to go in two more days,’’ Sale said.
Sale, who is pegged to start his second consecutive Opening Day, will start the Cactus League opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers next Friday.
‘‘A handful of bullpens, a couple live BPs and I should be ready to go,’’ he said. ‘‘I should have enough feel to get out there and hit the ground running a little bit and not take too much time getting ready.’’
Time to adjust
Based on how he hit after making an initial splash when he was called up from Charlotte last July 5, catcher Josh Phegley said he appreciates getting another chance at a job. A .316 hitter with 15 homers in 61 games at Class AAA in 2013, Phegley batted .206 with four homers in 204 at-bats for the Sox.
‘‘Part of it is pitchers figuring him out,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘And with the amount of video and everything that goes into advanced scouting, that’s just part of it. That’s part of surviving at this level. You have to be able to make adjustments, just like they make adjustments. He got a little pull-happy on the outer half of the plate and just wasn’t covering as well as he did early. So, there’s adjustments to be made. He has the ability to do it.’’