CHICAGO – The White Sox, trying to find a way to get back on track in what is shaping up to be a lost season, can’t afford to have first baseman Paul Konerko out of the lineup.
Konerko sat out Friday’s doubleheader against the Indians, the third and fourth games he has missed because of lower right back tightness. Konerko, 37, received six injections before Thursday’s game to help alleviate the inflammation in his back. An MRI taken Wednesday did not reveal any serious ailment in his back beyond the wear and tear of playing 17 years in the majors.
Konerko, who spoke for the first time since experiencing the back tightness, said he woke up Monday morning and could barely stand, almost unable to move because his back was “really, really bound up.”
“I don’t have the best hips in the world … probably all of it contributes to that,” Konerko said. “So I do get a lot of soreness throughout the year that I kind of have to stay ahead of. This kind of just came out of nowhere.”
Before Friday’s first game, manager Robin Ventura deemed Konerko going on the disabled list as “a long shot.”
“Right now it’s day by day,” Ventura said. “But depending on how he feels and if it lingers and goes into the next couple of days, you could be thinking about it just to make sure you get it right.”
Konerko hopes he will be back in the lineup Sunday against the Indians, and although he wouldn’t rule out being ready for today’s game, it’s considered a long shot that he will play. He is, however, feeling better than he did earlier in the week. Konerko isn’t worried a few days away from facing live pitching will affect him at the plate. If anything, Konerko said, maybe it will help him. He’s hitting .253 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 66 games.
“We have a day off Monday, so if I was sore after Sunday I’d have Monday to rest,” Konerko said. “But that’s at least my goal. I don’t know if it’s realistic or not, but that’s what I’m shooting for.”
Saturday represents an important day for Konerko and the Sox. Konerko plans to swing a bat for the first time since he last played Sunday to see how his back feels. If he still experiences tightness or is unable to let loose while swinging, Konerko admitted that going on the DL would be a legitimate possibility. Konerko doesn’t want to hold the team back by having one less player available if he is sidelined for an extended stretch.
“I haven’t tested it really at all,” Konerko said. “But I’ll be honest with them and let them really know. If that’s what needs to be done, that’s what needs to be done, but I don’t want to do that.”