Paul Konerko not expected to start on his last Opening Day
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media March 30, 2014 8:55PM
Updated: March 31, 2014 8:43AM
Paul Konerko wouldn’t start against Minnesota Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco in the fifth game of the season or in the 20th, so that’s why he’s likely not going to start in the first.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Sunday that Konerko won’t start in the season opener Monday against the Twins. Jose Abreu is expected to start at first base and Adam Dunn at designated hitter.
Konerko had the option to start but chose to stick to the stated plan of being a part-timer who plays mostly against left-handers. The decision means the Sox won’t have Konerko in their Opening Day lineup for the first time since 1998.
‘‘I think it’s just the way it should be,’’ said Konerko, who is entering his last season. ‘‘It’s not part of the blueprint of what we’re going to do here. No emotion, just what’s right is right. That’s the way I see it.’’
If the Twins were starting a
left-hander, Konerko said he probably would be in the lineup. And it was clear he didn’t want token playing time.
‘‘It’s not an easy decision, but when you go over how you’re going to do this and how you’re going to make it work, he made it clear this is kind of what he signed up to do,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘It’s more out of respect to him that you’re not just going to put him out there just to put him out there.’’
Konerko’s decision not to start seemed to take left-hander Chris Sale by surprise.
‘‘I didn’t know that; I figured he’d be out there,’’ said Sale, who will start for the Sox. ‘‘He’s probably the only person in Chicago, in the country or the world that thinks he shouldn’t be out there.’’
As expected, the Sox put infielders Gordon Beckham (strained left oblique) and Jeff Keppinger (recovery from offseason surgery on right shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list. Ventura said he didn’t know when they might return.
‘‘It’s all guessing at this point; I have no idea,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I know Gordon has played in a few games in the minor leagues, but unless you see him and hear him talk, I don’t know.’’
Ventura said he knows who will close if the Sox have a lead late in the game Monday, but he wouldn’t give a name.
‘‘I’m not going to say now,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I’ll tell you [Monday] morning.’’
Two weeks ago, the turf at U.S. Cellular Field was in trouble. Head groundskeeper Roger Bossard was using various methods in an effort to warm the playing surface after a long and bone-chilling winter.
On Sunday, it looked as though Bossard had succeeded in getting things ready. He impressed Ventura, who joked he was expecting to see an iceberg on the field.
‘‘I knew [Bossard] would pull this off,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I’ve never seen a situation he hasn’t been able to handle yet. But this one was probably pretty close.’’
The Sox agreed to terms with reliever Mitchell Boggs, whom they released during spring training, on a minor-league contract. They also traded minor-league reliever Omar Poveda to the Washington Nationals for cash.