Konerko feels it’s never too early for White Sox to get comfortable in tight games
By Daryl Van Schouwen email@example.com April 1, 2013 11:28PM
Sox batter Dayan Viciedo cracks his bat as he fouls off a pitch in the eighth inning of the Chicago White Sox 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on opening day at US Cellular Field Monday April 1, 2013. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 3, 2013 6:38AM
It’s only one win and only one game, but White Sox captain Paul Konerko put a slightly higher premium on winning a tight, one-run game on Opening Day.
The only holdover from the 2005 World Series champions, Konerko said that team got in the habit of winning close games, and it’s never too early to get in those habits.
“When we were in a one-run game, we felt very comfortable,’’ Konerko said. “That seemed normal to us. That only came by, obviously, being in a lot of them and winning them, and you kind of just felt comfortable with that. So a lot of times, you look at the team’s record and you look at the one-run ballgames. Whatever that record is swings that team from being a really good team to just kind of a mediocre team.
“It’s never a bad thing to start building those habits, and we prepared in spring training. The way we do our defensive drills, the way we do everything in spring training is all based around the fact we’re going to play like a 2-1 game.’’
It’s not out of the question that Konerko’s 13th consecutive Opening Day start at first base for the Sox was his last. His contract is up after the season, but he says he doesn’t think about that possibility unless he’s asked about it.
“We’ve been down this path twice before, two years ago and seven years ago,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said before the game. ‘‘Each time, we’ve been able to work something out. It’s been a matter at the end of the season of sitting down with Paul and hearing where his thoughts are and our thoughts are and being able to come to some sort of agreement.’’
At-bat of the game
Royals manager Ned Yost said it came in the third inning when Chris Sale struck out Billy Butler with the bases loaded and one out.
‘‘Sale was phenomenal,’’ Yost said. “We had the one chance with Billy, and Sale painted him three sliders and changeups down and away. That was impressive.
‘‘He made pitches he needed to make against one of the best hitters in the American League.’’
Still one of the boys
John Danks, who pitched in a minor-league game Friday in Arizona, was in town for Opening Day ceremonies and will go back to pitch in another game Thursday.
As far as he can tell, his velocity is still where it was during spring training, when “rather than going out there with a 93 [mph fastball], I was going out there with an 85. That’s a big difference,’’ Danks said.
Danks said doctors have told him to be patient.
“I don’t have any doubts I will get back to where I was,’’ he said. “It will take some time. More time than we thought or hoped.’’