CHICAGO – It’s a question White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko will have to answer throughout the season.
Will he be back with the Sox after his contract expires this year? At this point, even Konerko is unsure about his future on the South Side, but the emotions he will experience in what could be his 15th and final year with the Sox are very familiar.
“I was prepared two years ago that this could be the last time I play,” Konerko said Friday during SoxFest at the Palmer House Hilton. “I’ve kind of gone through the whole exercise of the preparation for that, so it’s just a matter of kind of rekindling that.
“You know at some point your career is going to end. I don’t know right now.”
Sox general manager Rick Hahn plans to keep any negotiations between the organization and Konerko quiet in keeping with what they’ve done during past negotiations in the past.
“The one thing I don’t worry about with Paulie is that we’re not going to understand or know what the other is thinking,” Hahn said. “There’s too long of a history there and he means too much to this organization and we’ve been able to do too many deals despite people thinking we wouldn’t be able to. We’re not really going to let any cynicism about our ability to do another one get in the way.”
Konerko has watched as two of the longest tenured Sox – pitcher Mark Buehrle and catcher A.J. Pierzynski – both left the organization the past two offseasons and the last player from the Sox’s 2005 World Series team understands he could be next. He doesn’t want that to weigh on his mind during the season.
“My thing is just have a solid season and do my job,” Konerko said. “That’s all it boils down to. I signed a contract to do a job and I want to make sure I do what I signed up for. That has nothing to do with the other distractions of ‘what are you going to do.’ If I spend time thinking and talking about that stuff I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing for this team.”
Sale packs on pounds: Sox left-hander Chris Sale’s skinny frame is almost as notorious as his wicked pitching motion.
Sale has been working hard to change that, however, dedicating the offseason to adding weight to his 6-foot-6 frame. Sale said he’s gained 10-15 pounds since the season ended thanks in part to a change in diet.
He has started grilling while avoiding fast food joints, including his favorites, Taco Bell and Five Guys, which in the past did little to help him maintain weight. Sale’s ultimate goal is to reach 200 pounds, but he admitted that’s probably a few years away from happening.
“I told these guys I put on some weight and they didn’t believe me,” Sale said. “I told them my shoe size got bigger, that it went all the way down to my feet. I’m feeling good. Everything is great. My body feels good, I feel loose. I’m just excited for spring training to start and ready to get going.”
With a longer spring training schedule due to the World Baseball Classic, the Sox are planning on easing Sale into a routine. Sale would like to hit 200 innings pitched this season but avoided setting that milestone as a benchmark.
“I’ll be able to build up some arm strength and kind of find myself as a pitcher again,” Sale said. “You kind of get away from off the mound stuff for a while and you get back on there. It will be enough time to figure out mechanics, arm angles and get all that stuff back. I’m excited for it.”
Danks on track: John Danks couldn’t help but smile as he talked about finally returning to the mound.
The left hander continues rehabbing from shoulder surgery, and Danks wants to get ready as fast as he can and plans to push it during spring training – at least as much as the Sox let him.
“I’m kind of chomping at the bit,” Danks said. “I haven’t had this much time off in a long time. I’m ready to go. It’s definitely kind of exciting to be here right before spring.”