Paul Konerko is a creature of habit.
During the season, the White Sox’ longtime captain is more than happy to talk about the game that given day, and Konerko is one of the best in the game at explaining why it was won or lost.
He will go big picture from time to time, but only in the team sense.
As for talking about himself, it’s almost always taboo.
Hopefully, that sets the scene for what happened after Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
Long after the Sox (44-72) lost 5-2 to Minnesota, roughly 40 minutes, Konerko was stunned to see a group of reporters waiting in front of his locker as he strolled in from the player’s lounge in the back of the clubhouse.
Before the game, when Konerko was not available to the media, White Sox manager Robin Ventura was asked about the 37-year-old first baseman/designated hitter’s future.
Konerko’s contract is up at the end of the season.
“He’s not going to play for another 10 years,” Ventura said. “That much everybody knows. How much he plays longer than this season is really up to him.
“He’s had spurts where it’s good and injuries and things, there have been periods where it (has) slowed him down. That’s natural for everyone when you get to a point in your career that he’s at right now.
“Ultimately he’s the guy who has to figure that out and decide.”
Konerko has always pondered his future in the off-season, and that has not changed.
He bristled when asked about it in early August.
“I’m not really interested in talking about some macro questions like that,” Konerko said.
Is he going to play in 2014, with the White Sox or some other team? No one knows, and that likely includes Konerko.
“We’ll just worry about that when the time comes,” he offered. “There are a lot of moving parts to it.”
As he nears the end of his 15th season with the White Sox, Konerko is not in a happy place. Outside of 2007, the Sox usually have been competitive.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Konerko, who is batting .242 with 9 home runs and 40 RBI in 86 games. “You want to try to experience everything throughout your career, but this is one I wish we would have dodged.
“It’s not fun. I’ve been lucky in my whole time I’ve been here that we’ve always kind of been in it, or right up until the end of August at the worst, if not into September.
“There was one year, I think in ’07, where we were out of it, but that was a little different because we had a bunch of injuries. Even the guys who stepped in for the guys who got hurt got hurt.
“It was just a different thing then because we just didn’t have our team from June on, so that’s kind of a free pass there.”
This year the White Sox have been at or near the bottom of the American League in runs scored, batting average, walks and on-base percentage, and their defense and baserunning also have been atrocious.
“I think it just goes to show you all those little things keep you right there, so it’s a good lesson to learn,” Konerko said. “This year we’ve had struggles at the plate; the big things at times have struggled. But when you don’t do those little things, you can see how far it can get away from you.
“The little things can help you win when you don’t have those big things. That’s what we haven’t done.
“Any time when we haven’t had it (big things), we haven’t been able to string together any wins because of those little things. The defense, the plays that get made here and there, the baserunning stuff, that’s the stuff that kind of gets you over the hump to win a game you probably shouldn’t.
“That’s what we haven’t done this year.”
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