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updated: 6/14/2014 8:46 PM

Konerko knows it's not time for White Sox to panic

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  • White Sox third baseman Leury Garcia chases after the ball following his error Saturday during the Royals' 5-run fourth inning.

      White Sox third baseman Leury Garcia chases after the ball following his error Saturday during the Royals' 5-run fourth inning.
    Associated Press

 
 

Paul Konerko put on quite a show for an appreciative crowd of 24,527 on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.

As Konerko slowly makes his way through his 16th and final season in a White Sox uniform, he rarely even plays unless a left-handed starter is on the mound.

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So he got the call against Royals lefty Danny Duffy, and Konerko was the lone highlight in the Sox' 9-1 loss.

"He's swinging it against lefties," manager Robin Ventura said after Konerko had 2 of the 5 hits Duffy yielded in 7 innings before leading off the ninth with a home run against right-handed reliever Michael Mariot.

"We knew coming in that was going to be his role, to come in and do that, and he's been doing that. It's not an easy thing to do."

It's fortunate Konerko was in the lineup, because there wasn't much else to see as the White Sox (33-36) lost their third straight. Several times this season, the Sox have looked like a contending type of team ready to go on an extended winning streak.

It still hasn't happened.

And several times -- including now -- the White Sox have looked like a team that still has plenty of work to do on the heels of a 99-loss 2013 season.

Konerko was brought back for one more year to not only hit left-handers but to help stabilize a younger clubhouse.

"The easy thing to do right around now is to panic, and if you are not swinging the bat well somehow your season is kind of stamped for what it is," Konerko said. "It's going to go that way. There's so much time left for a team and individuals. There is nobody this time of year -- there are a lot of guys having great years around the league or bad years -- (but) there's nobody that stops today that has had a great year.

"You have to keep grinding and working. That goes the same for guys who aren't doing what they want to do. There's nobody that's doomed to having a bad year. There's just that much left, so you've just got to keep trucking along."

Tyler Flowers is in an extended slump, and Dayan Viciedo, Conor Gillaspie and Alejandro De Aza are among other Sox hitters who are going bad. Konerko said the key to pulling out of a slump is through work and taking a look at the schedule.

"I think the big thing is, even as many years as I've played, the season is always a little bit longer than you think," Konerko said. "The more you play, you get a handle on that. I've done it right, and I've done it wrong. You look back in August and September and say I panicked, I threw it away in June when there was a lot of time left.

"So that's what I would convey to anybody that's in those spots, that sometimes it feels like it's slipping away and it's not going well. You feel like all the good stuff is ending, but there are so many more ups and downs and a lot of chances for good things."

The hitting has been sluggish during the three-game losing streak, but Ventura said Saturday's loss was sealed in the Royals' 5-run fourth inning.

An error by third baseman Leury Garcia opened the door for 3 unearned runs, and Viciedo also failed to make a critical catch in the fourth.

That proved costly for starter Hector Noesi, who allowed 2 earned runs on 8 hits and a walk in 3⅔ innings.

"(Duffy) was good," Ventura said. " It's a credit to him. He shut us down offensively; he was throwing great. On the other hand, we didn't play defense behind Hector, and that's a recipe to lose a game in a hurry.

"It has to get better if you're going to plan on winning games, that's for sure. Hector, he's been good for us. He's always given us a chance, but you have to help him out on occasion."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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