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posted: 10/29/2013 9:18 PM

Door still open for Konerko to return to White Sox

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  • Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko has a few choices ahead of him: return to the White Sox for his 16th and final season, retire or play one more year with another major league club.

      Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko has a few choices ahead of him: return to the White Sox for his 16th and final season, retire or play one more year with another major league club.
    Associated PRess, 2009

 
 

Not long after Jose Abreu defected from his native Cuba to Haiti in early August, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn had a talk with first baseman Paul Konerko.

And shortly after the Sox unofficially agreed to a six-year, $68 million contract with Abreu earlier in October, Hahn called Konerko again.

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"I wanted him to have the information from me as opposed to Twitter or a reporter calling," Hahn said after White Sox officially announced the Abreu signing Tuesday morning. "We confirmed that we'd get together next month."

When Hahn, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Konerko do get together in Arizona in November, the options are simple: Konerko comes back to the White Sox in 2014 for his 16th and final season, he decides to retire, or he plays one more year with another major-league club.

With Abreu and another first baseman, Adam Dunn, already on the White Sox' 25-man roster, there might not be room for Konerko. Then again, Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien can play second base, shortstop and third base, so either one could fill the utility infielder role and open a spot for Konerko.

Hahn said there is plenty of time to make a decision.

"That's his decision, so I don't know," Hahn said when asked if Konerko wants to play another season. "But he's going through his process, and I think he's currently on vacation with his family. When he gets back we'll set up a time to get together."

Immediate impact:

Much has been made of new first baseman Jose Abreu feasting on inferior pitching in his native Cuba and putting up gaudy numbers.

Abreu is going to have to adjust to much tougher pitching in the major leagues, without a doubt, but manager Robin Ventura said fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes (Oakland Athletics) and Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers) recently have shown that transition can be made.

"It's an adjustment for anybody, but (Abreu's) playing against some pretty good talent," Ventura said. "You go by the precedent that has been set by guys that have come over recently, Cespedes and Puig, that's where he's playing, and what you're seeing can translate into the major leagues. What and how much, that's up to him and how he produces.

"It's the opportunity for him. Instead of just thinking it's risky, it's risky to have any free agent, but you're going by his age and the future and what you're willing to go after. He's going to have an opportunity, and hopefully he'll be fun to watch."

Helping hands:

The White Sox already had two native Cuban players, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo, before signing Jose Abreu.

Ramirez played with Abreu in Cuba and Viciedo played against the big first baseman. The duo helped the Sox land Abreu.

"It was important from a background standpoint," general manager Rich Hahn said. "They weren't the only ones we talked to about the character and makeup but you still want to understand what makes him tick and how he was going to respond, not only to the money, but the expectations of playing in Chicago and an environment like this.

"And Alexei and Dayan, as well as several others behind the scenes, reinforced that this is the type of guy who can really respond well to it."

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