Konerko beaning ratchets up tension

Updated 5/18/2012 7:40 PM
  • The White Sox's Paul Konerko falls to the ground after being hit in the head with a pitch by Jeff Samardzija on Friday at Wrigley Field. Konerko left the game with a facial cut and was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

    The White Sox's Paul Konerko falls to the ground after being hit in the head with a pitch by Jeff Samardzija on Friday at Wrigley Field. Konerko left the game with a facial cut and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Associated Press

Following the White Sox' 3-2 interleague win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, emotions were running high in both postgame clubhouses.

Veteran Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood was officially announcing his retirement over on the home side.

Across the way, White Sox captain Paul Konerko was long gone after the game.

Konerko gave the Sox the early lead with a 2-run homer off Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija in the first inning.

It was Konerko's 55th career interleague home run, the second most in baseball behind former teammate Jim Thome (59).

But when Konerko came up the next time -- with two outs in the third inning -- Samardzija went up and in with a split-finger fastball clocked at 85 mph.

Konerko never had a chance to duck the pitch, and he was hit flush on the left side of the face.

"You never want that for anybody that you're playing with or anybody on their team," said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, who hit a solo home run off Samardzija with one out in the eighth inning to snap a 2-2 tie.

"You never want to see anybody hit in the head," Beckham continued. "It was very scary, and he walked off. We figured he was OK, but you never want to see anybody hit in the head. That's tough to watch for anybody, even on the opposing team to watch."

Konerko was diagnosed with a small laceration above his left eye and swelling, and he was taken to an undisclosed hospital during the game for additional tests.

In the top of the fourth inning, A.J. Pierzynski went back to the White Sox' clubhouse to check things out and he caught Konerko before he left Wrigley.

"His eye was pretty swelled up, but he was cognizant and didn't say he was dizzy or anything," Pierzynski said. "I've seen him get hit before and get up and go to first (base). It was a little scary when he didn't get right up. He seemed fine and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Adam Dunn shifted from left field to first base after Konerko was drilled, and Dayan Viciedo came off the bench to play left.

That is probably how the Sox will line up in Saturday's middle game, assuming Konerko is not ready to return.

"You definitely don't want to see anybody get hit in the face," Dunn said. "Luckily it sounds like he's all right. It's one of those unfortunate deals. I can't imagine. That's some scary stuff."

In a Sept. 16, 2010 game against Minnesota, Twins starter Carl Pavano hit Konerko in the mouth with a pitch. Konerko stayed in the game and hit a home run off Pavano his next time up.

He wasn't able to do the same against Samardzija.

"It got away from (Samardzija) a little bit, and hopefully Paul's going to be OK," said Sox starting pitcher Phil Humber. "I know he's a tough guy and it's unfortunate, but it's part of the game."

Retaliation is also part of the game, and let's just say the White Sox' response was curious.

Samardzija just happened to lead off the bottom of the third inning, but Humber didn't throw at his mound opponent.

In the fourth inning, Humber threw a pitch behind Bryan LaHair, who has been the Cubs' best hitter over the first quarter of the season. Both benches were warned.

Message sent?

"That one just got away from me," Humber said with a slight smirk and without making eye contact. "It's just one of those things that happens during the game."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Konerko getting hit is "just baseball."

Ventura also indicated if the White Sox thought Samardzija was trying to hit Konerko on purpose, he would have been hit leading off the bottom of the third inning.

As for LaHair nearly getting nailed, Ventura parroted Humber and said the pitch "got away."


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