It’s still early in the season but late enough to scrap the White Sox’ “Appreciate the Game” motto.
It’s a nice thought, but too generic.
Maybe the Sox should just consult veteran captain Paul Konerko before trotting out a new slogan.
After Friday afternoon’s 5-2 victory over the defending AL Central champion Tigers in the sold-out home opener, Konerko again tapped his gift for verbal gold.
Yes, Konerko was a little pumped about the win — the White Sox’ third straight — and 4-2 record to open the long season.
The 36-year-old first baseman put his unique spin on things and put it all into perspective.
Like it? We’ll let Konerko explain.
“It’s early in the year, and it’s nice,” Konerko said. “We’re playing the game with a lot of small thoughts, and that’s good. We’re just out there having a little fun and just playing for the inning in the game we’re in. That’s it. We’re not thinking beyond that, and that’s the way we’ve got to keep it.”
The Sox haven’t purposefully played the game with “small thoughts” since 2005, and we all know what happened that year.
The White Sox aren’t even close to thinking about October, but they are making the most of what they have in the very early going.
Against a powerful Detroit team, Jake Peavy set the tone with 6 innings of 2-hit ball, although he did serve up a 2-run homer to Delmon Young before calling it an afternoon.
Peavy no longer has the big arm, but he was doing all of the small stuff against the Tigers and truly deserved his first win of the season.
Like Konerko, Peavy focused on fundamental baseball and solid team play instead of individual achievement.
“Everybody on the field today contributed in some way,” the 30-year-old starter said. “That’s going to be indicative of the game we have to play. It’s going to be a team effort, and that’s been the theme that (manager) Robin (Ventura), (bench coach) Mark Parent and (third-base coach) Joe McEwing and (general manager) Kenny (Williams) have tried to instill this spring.
“Let’s join together as a unit and make this happen. At least at the end of the day we can walk away knowing we gave them everything we had.”
While winning their fifth straight home opener, the Sox got stellar pitching from Peavy and the bullpen.
They did get a big homer from Dayan Viciedo in the fifth inning, which broke a scoreless tie, and scratched and scraped for their other runs.
Strong defense is key for any team with contending aspirations, and the White Sox got that, too.
Viciedo laid out and made a standout catch in left field to end the seventh inning.
Then, with the Sox clinging to a 3-2 lead in the eighth, the Tigers had runners on first and third with one out when shortstop Alexei Ramirez dove to his right to stop a Miguel Cabrera groundball.
Ramirez flipped the ball with his glove to Gordon Beckham and forced Brennan Boesch at second base. Beckham fired over to Konerko to complete the highlight double play.
“At the time of the game, where the runners were, that play had to be made if we wanted to win the game,” Beckham said. “Alexei made an incredible play. I was kind of an onlooker on that one. That was pretty awesome.”
The White Sox tacked on 2 more runs in the eighth inning to get some additional breathing room.
Afterward, they were able to exhale and enjoy the moment.
“Absolutely just a good team win,” Konerko said. “Great pitching from Peav, awesome defense and some timely hits. I think we’ve obviously got to win the series here, that’s the goal.
“The Texas series, Detroit, those are the elite teams in the league because of what they’ve done in the previous year, so I think it’s good for us to get on the field with them and compete and play the game hard and show ourselves that we belong on the field with them.”
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