Jim Thome predicts that Paul Konerko will be great in part-time role
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter February 21, 2014 9:10PM
Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeny chats with Sox first baseman Paul Konerko during batting pratcice before the Chicago Cubs 7-0 win over the Chicago White Sox Monday, Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 at US Cellular Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 24, 2014 10:36PM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jim Thome, who became a part-time player in the twilight of his career, admits to being biased because Paul Konerko is a friend. But speaking from experience, Thome predicts Konerko will thrive in his last season as a part-time DH and bench player.
“This is my call: I think Paulie comes out and has a great year,’’ said Thome from his home in the Chicago suburbs. “At the end of my career, playing a few days instead of six or seven a week, those two days of rest helped my body.’’
A special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn, Thome said Konerko earned the right to call his own shot for next season, but the decision was not made for selfish reasons.
“He’s had such a great career that you earn the respect that he has to determine when you want to go out,’’ Thome said. “He’s always made great decisions to put himself and the White Sox organization in a good position.
“He’s going to help. He’s not just there to pump guys up. Granted, you’re a mentor but Paulie is going to help our club — it might not be on the field every night but knowing him he will step up and accept this role.’’
Thome and Konerko became friends when Thome played for the Sox from 2006-09.
“We talk about once a month but as the [decision] process was going on we talked as friends,’’ Thome said. “I work for the White Sox, but I gave him advice as a friend.’’