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updated: 4/1/2013 8:27 PM

Winning tight games critical to Sox' success

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  • Bo Jackson, who played for the White Sox and Royals, throws out the first ceremonial pitch in the 2013 season opener at U.S. Cellular Field.

       Bo Jackson, who played for the White Sox and Royals, throws out the first ceremonial pitch in the 2013 season opener at U.S. Cellular Field.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Paul Konerko reacts as his long flyball is caught in the eighth inning of the Sox' 1-0 win over Kansas City on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.

       Paul Konerko reacts as his long flyball is caught in the eighth inning of the Sox' 1-0 win over Kansas City on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

If this was Paul Konerko's final opening-day game in a White Sox uniform, he still didn't want to talk about it.

But Konerko was thrilled with the way the Sox hung on for a 1-0 win over the Royals, even drawing an early comparison to the 2005 team that won the World Series.

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"The team in '05, the thing about that team was when we were in a 1-run game, we felt very comfortable," said Konerko, the only active World Series player left. "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 1-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. And I think that's good."

Making his 13th straight opening-day start for the White Sox at first base, Konerko received the loudest applause from the capacity crowd (39,012) at U.S. Cellular Field.

"Not too much," Konerko said when asked if there was a difference this season since he is 37 and in the final year of his contract. "You think back to all of them and as a player, they're all special no matter how old you are. I can remember all of them."

Only time will tell if Konerko returns to the Sox after this season.

"In terms of what he means to the organization, I'm probably not suited to properly put into words how important a player he has been to this organization," general manager Rick Hahn said. "In terms of whether the likelihood of him coming back, we've been down this path twice before, both two years ago and seven years ago. Each time we've been able to work something out. It's been a matter at the end of the season sitting down with Paul and hearing where his thoughts are and our thoughts are and being able to come to some sort of agreement."

Danks update:

Even though he's on the disabled list, starting pitcher John Danks was introduced along with the rest of the White Sox prior to Monday's season opener against the Royals.

Danks is headed back to the Sox' spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz., and he's scheduled to pitch on Thursday.

Trying to come back from Aug. 6 shoulder surgery, Danks pitched a Class AAA game against the Rangers on Friday.

"It felt good," Danks said. "Obviously not quite where I need to be, it's about what it was the time before. Some good and some bad. When I was able to make a pitch, I had some good results and vice versa. I'm trying to work back on arm strength, velocity, being able to make the pitches do what I want. I still have a little ways to go."

Danks' return to the White Sox' rotation remains up in the air.

"We are not going to put a timetable on it at this point," GM Rick Hahn said. "We would love to have him. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with a pitcher's shoulder, there isn't a linear path from surgical date to return to the rotation."

On the move:

The nine retired numbers and accompanying silhouettes that used to be displayed on the left-center field wall at U.S. Cellular Field have been relocated.

Nellie Fox (No. 2), Harold Baines (3), Luke Appling (4), Minnie Minoso (9), Luis Aparicio (11), Ted Lyons (16), Billy Pierce (19), Carlton Fisk (72) and Jackie Robinson (42) now reside on the fašade above the Stadium Club down the right-field line, minus the silhouettes.

The left-center field fence now features advertisements, which comes as no surprise after a disappointing 2012 at the gate for the White Sox.

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