Who says the Cubs-White Sox rivalry is dead?
Well, maybe the fans said so in a way, as only 34,937 showed up Friday on a glorious spring day at Wrigley Field.
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But as far as the game went, the White Sox' 3-2 victory had the feel of some good, old-fashioned country, or cross-town, hardball.
Paul Konerko got the Sox off to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a 2-run homer into the left-field bleachers against Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
The next time Konerko came up, Samardzija hit him on the left side of the face with a pitch, sending Konerko out of the game.
The pitch looked unintentional, as Samardzija walked to home plate to check on Konerko's well-being.
"It's unfortunate," Samardzija said. "There are a lot of superstars in this league that put up big numbers and get paid a lot of money. Paulie is one of those guys that does that as a superstar and does it the right way. There aren't too many of those guys out there.
"Paulie's a great guy. That ball got way. It hit him up high. If I could take it back, I would. The only thing that makes me OK about it is he's a tough guy. I hope he'll be all right."
Both Samardzija and Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the pitch that hit Konerko was a split-finger fastball that got way. Split-finger pitches are designed to sink.
Nevertheless, White Sox pitcher Phil Humber threw behind Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair when LaHair came up in the fourth inning. Both benches were warned, and LaHair eventually walked in that appearance.
"I definitely felt like it was intentional," said LaHair. "You wait a whole inning, and then the first pitch is right at my head. I'm all right with getting hit and stuff like that. I understand. But you start getting around people's heads, that's kind of dangerous."
There was more rough-and-tumble, but clean, stuff later. Cubs right fielder David DeJesus singled to left-center in the fifth inning. He tried to stretch it into a double and looked like he'd be safe. But White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham roll-blocked DeJesus, knocking him off the bag and tagging him out.
"It was an off-throw, so I slid in there as hard as I could," DeJesus said. "The next thing you know, he shouldered me into the ground. I didn't watch the tape yet, so I really don't know what happened. The umpire said I came off the bag."
Sveum was not happy. He argued with umpire Marty Foster, who had rotated from third base to second on the play, and was ejected.
"As far as I know, you can't shove people off the base, or everybody would be doing it all the time," said Sveum, who added he'd keep private what he said to Foster.
All that aside, newcomers to the Cubs-Sox series, such as DeJesus, seemed to enjoy the atmosphere.
"It's pretty cool," he said. "It's fun playing against your rival, the cross-town rival. Once it's around the baseball field, the game is still played the same."
It Friday's case, it was played pretty hard.