White Sox' Konerko talks about his uncertain future
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Paul Konerko waves to the fans Sunday after being taken out of the game in the second inning at U.S. Cellular Field.
If Paul Konerko does come back next year to play one more season with the White Sox, he already has an idea how his final game at U.S. Cellular Field is going to wrap up.
"I might do the lap around the field because then I know and it'll be for real," Konerko said Sunday after the Sox concluded their hideous 2013 campaign with a 4-1 loss to the Royals.
How bad was it?
The White Sox (63-99) had their worst season since 1970 and finished in last place for the first time since 1989.
They finished last in the American League with 598 runs scored and had the second most errors (121).
They also drew 1,768,544 fans, the seventh straight year attendance has declined.
The 22,633 who turned out Sunday made sure they gave Konerko a proper send-off -- assuming he doesn't return for his 16th season in a White Sox uniform.
Konerko got a standing ovation when he came to the plate in the first inning, and the applause were even louder when Conor Gillaspie replaced the 37-year-old captain at first base with one out in the top of the second.
As it turns out, Konerko was lifted early because he tweaked his troublesome back during Saturday's game against Kansas City.
"Yeah, as luck would have it I kind of reaggravated something a little," said Konerko, who missed a month in the middle of the season with a sore lower back. "It's not as bad as anything it was. I think it happened on that play last night where (Alex) Gordon broke his bat. I kind of flinched, and it just kind of stiffened up on me."
Konerko had his share of physical ailments all season, which is to be expected from a veteran player with plenty of mileage. He seems to be leaning toward playing one more season, but it would be the Sox' call on bringing Konerko back.
"If I want to play and they didn't want me back I'd have to look in the mirror and say, 'You know what, if you wanted to play you should have done better,'" said Konerko, who finished the season with a .244 batting average and career lows in home runs (12) and RBI (54).
"You learn that in Little League. I would hope that I'm man enough to do that."
If Sunday was his last game with the White Sox, Konerko won't forget it.
"The fans here have treated me great over the years," he said. "In a year like this, they treated me better than probably I deserved, really the whole team when you think about it.
"There were moments where they hung in with us where I knew they were antsy about what was going on.
"It always feels good. It certainly feels better when you're doing World Series parades, but I don't take it for granted at all. It's always good, but this year was a little different circumstances."
Konerko headed back home to Arizona after the game, and he will take a needed break before deciding on his future. Since Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf lives nearby in the winter, the two are likely to hook up.
"I'm sure we'll meet and talk," Konerko said. "I know (general manager) Rick (Hahn) is coming in, I think in November. See where they are at.
"Obviously, it's not just me about all this. They have a lot of other stuff to figure out. They have their hands full with a lot of issues. I'm just one of them, but try to do it as timely as we can.
"I don't want to be one of those guys that you see not signing until January or February and they are kind of stringing it out. I don't know if I want to get into that. I'm sure I will have some sort of conversation with Jerry at some point in the next month."
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