Hahn hopeful Konerko decides by Winter Meetings
CHICAGO -- There has been no official decision reached by Paul Konerko regarding his return for a 16th year as part of the White Sox.
But general manager Rick Hahn reiterated Tuesday that he expects a decision from the White Sox captain before the Dec. 9 start of baseball's annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
"It's good to have it resolved for his own preparation and in terms of [Konerko] getting ready for Spring Training to have it set by December," said Hahn, speaking after 12 members of the White Sox Amateur City Elite program signed their collegiate letters of intent Tuesday at the U.S. Cellular Field Conference and Learning Center. "I think we'll be able to do that.
"It could be tomorrow. It could be two weeks. More likely than not, it's going to be resolved prior to the Winter Meetings, before we leave here. I don't have a firm time frame, but I think it will be done before then."
Hahn and manager Robin Ventura met with Konerko after the White Sox agreed to a six-year, $68-million deal with Cuban free agent Jose Abreu, who figures to be regularly stationed at first base. Hahn spoke again with Konerko after that meeting, and then Ventura saw him at Gordon Beckham's wedding two weekends ago. The spirit of the meetings was to lay out the situation for Konerko and the team moving forward, with the decision left up to Konerko.
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told WSCR 670 AM, the team's flagship station, that Konerko "has earned the right to come back if he wants to come back" during a Saturday interview. Konerko not only has been one of the most accomplished hitters in franchise history but also has been a valued leader in and out of the clubhouse.
That sentiment was espoused by Hahn on Tuesday, who also agreed with his boss that Konerko wouldn't come back unless he saw a way to contribute.
"I don't think Paulie wants to play just to be on the bench or a farewell tour. That's not him," Hahn said. "He's not looking to go to every ballpark and receive a gift or a special sendoff from White Sox fans. He would want to play only if he felt he had something left in the tank and something to add to a club.
"We are dealing with the face of the franchise for the past 15 years, and one, whether he plays in 2014 or not, who will always be associated with a very successful era of White Sox baseball. Jerry publicly made it very clear that because of who Paul is and what he's done for this organization, he's earned the right to make this decision on his terms, and that's what we are providing him the opportunity to do."
Konerko's role almost assuredly would be somewhat more limited compared to his everyday play over the past 15 years. But Hahn stressed that waiting for Konerko's decision has not cramped the team's reshaping process.
"Obviously we have a plan if he's back and we have a plan if he's not back," Hahn said. "We haven't missed on any opportunities to fill that role if he doesn't fill it himself."