Konerko's final games a time of reflection
Captain expected to play at least three of four home contests
DETROIT -- Manager Robin Ventura has Paul Konerko targeted to play Thursday, Saturday and Sunday out of the final four home games against the Royals, also marking the final four games of the team captain's illustrious 16-year-run with the White Sox.
Saturday officially marks Paul Konerko Day, with Konerko being joined by friends, family and former and current teammates to be honored in a pregame ceremony before a 6:10 p.m. CT first pitch. Tickets remain available for that contest at U.S. Cellular Field.
There's a possibility that Konerko, who has been playing with a broken sesamoid bone in his left hand and started Tuesday night at first base against David Price, could play in all four in front of the home fans.
"We'll talk about it," said Ventura of Konerko's schedule. "After what happened in [St. Petersburg], not having played and going back out there, it's not as easy as jumping on a horse and going back out there. It will be a daily thing to talk to him to see how he's doing.
"You really want to get him in on the weekend to make sure he's going to play on the field. I don't know about all four, but he'll definitely be in the majority of them. He's tonight, probably Thursday and then we'll go from there."
It was then-manager Ozzie Guillen who bestowed the honor of captain on Konerko moving into the 2006 season, although Konerko already had established himself as a team leader and one of the faces of the organization. Ventura knew of Konerko, the player and the person, before taking over as manager for the 2012 campaign, and has thoroughly enjoyed their three years together.
"His commitment to playing the game right and doing things right, it wasn't a shock," Ventura said. "I knew from being around him a little before. Doing it the right way was the overriding thing, but there are things to enjoy.
"He has a good sense of humor that comes out even though he's an intense person. He definitely grinds things out mentally that a lot of guys probably don't care about. He cares about the little things in each at-bat or during the game, the little things that have driven him over the years and made him the player he is. There's a lot of great things that I have been fortunate to have because of him, because of his presence on the team."
Detroit honored Konerko before Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the White Sox, during which the captain had a key ninth-inning hit off of Price to keep a three-run, game-tying rally alive. Tigers first-base coach Omar Vizquel, who played with Konerko on the White Sox in 2010 and 2011, presented Konerko with a framed first base and dirt from Comerica Park. The plaque also had Konerko's career accomplishments against the Tigers, among which are his .288 average, 45 homers and 152 RBIs, not to mention his 18 homers at Comerica Park.
"Again, nice gesture. Really cool that Omar was the guy," Konerko said. "That's a guy, Hall of Famer, ex-teammate, just a really neat guy. I enjoyed playing with him and I had no idea I was first in games played [by an opposing player in Detroit]. I never even really thought about how many games I played here or the numbers or anything. That's pretty cool. I'm sure someday someone will break it, but at least for now, it's kind of cool."
Third to first
• Adam Eaton returned to action after missing two games to take care of a personal matter. He hit first and played center Tuesday against Price.
• Ventura reiterated that the White Sox simply are looking out for ace Chris Sale by giving him one final start Wednesday instead of pitching him on regular rest Tuesday and Sunday. Sale missed from April 18 to May 22 with a flexor muscle strain.
"You're taking care of him health-wise," said Ventura. "He had a period where he was sore, so you're just taking care of him.
"If it meant something, we would definitely look at starting him that game. But [we're] just taking care of his health, knowing where we're at and caring for his future."