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Konerko adapting to role as part-time player

KANSAS CITY -- Paul Konerko had a complete and thorough understanding of his full-time mentor, part-time player role coming into this 2014 season, marking the captain's 16th and final with the South Siders.

But even with that knowledge, Konerko isn't about to assess this change after just five games in this current campaign.

"To answer questions about any of that stuff right now is kind of not smart," said Konerko, who made his first start of the season at designated hitter Saturday with left-hander Bruce Chen on the mound.

Konerko had two pinch-hit appearances through the first four games, singling on the first pitch he saw in Wednesday's victory over the Twins and rapping a sharp grounder to third on the first pitch to end Thursday's loss. The playing situation for Konerko certainly is different, but the preparation remains the same.

"Pretty much half the games you don't play, you're engaged, you're getting loose, you're preparing to get in there like I did in a couple of games," Konerko said. "We're a few games in, four games in. You just do the best you can.

"That's the best way to put it. You don't try to overdo it. You try to make sure you're ready if you have to pinch-hit late in the game. I guess I'll have more answers on that as we go."

In preparing for the change in roles, Konerko sought out advice from others who had done the same thing at the end of their career such as Jim Thome and Mark Kotsay. He has implemented their advice on the work needed to stay ready along with his own consistent plan.

"You kind of have an idea when you might play," Konerko said. "So when it comes to your stuff in the weight room or your flips in the cage and all that, you can kind of plan it the right way, have a little more control over that, as far as the game itself when you're not playing, about when you get loose, how to peak at the right time for when you have to pinch-hit so you're not totally loose in the fifth or sixth inning when you're two or three innings away from hitting.

"Just that whole routine is stuff other guys have helped me with. Every guy is different so you kind of have to know your body and what works for somebody is not going to work for somebody else. But there are a lot of things to do that a lot of guys do that are good in that case when you're on the bench."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
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