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Konerko feels 'different vibe' at White Sox camp

MLB.com @scottmerkin

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko's favorite statistic from his 18-year Major League Baseball career would not be the 439 home runs nor the 1,412 RBIs.

It's the 16 years he played for the White Sox that stands out in the mind of the captain. That extended service time seems overwhelming considering reliever Nate Jones is the longest tenured current member of the White Sox, having made his debut on April 8, 2012.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko's favorite statistic from his 18-year Major League Baseball career would not be the 439 home runs nor the 1,412 RBIs.

It's the 16 years he played for the White Sox that stands out in the mind of the captain. That extended service time seems overwhelming considering reliever Nate Jones is the longest tenured current member of the White Sox, having made his debut on April 8, 2012.

"Things go in cycles and it takes a lot of luck," said Konerko, making a rare Spring Training appearance at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday. "Even if a guy wants to stay here and a team wants him to stay here, the performance of the team and the economics of the game and all that sometimes make it impossible for it to happen.

"I was always lucky because every time it kind of got close to it, or they were thinking about changing direction to go really young or do this or that, they kind of held on to the idea of trying to keep the group together. I benefitted from that.

"But it's definitely tough," Konerko said. "It has to start out with a player who wants to be in one spot and not chase every last penny somewhere else. Again, there are so many things that have to work out. It is rare."

Konerko left baseball after the 2014 season, although his jersey No. 14 was retired, his statue lives on at Guaranteed Rate Field and his U.S. Cellular Field locker sits in his Arizona home after taking it apart and reassembling it. Konerko clarified with a smile that he by no means feels retired as the married father of three kids.

"Retired means it's life on the beach somewhere. It's certainly not that," Konerko said. "Anybody who has kids knows it's a nonstop thing. You feel like a taxi cab driver dropping them off and picking them up at all their events."

As for the White Sox rebuild, Konerko understands the path they are taking to sustainable success.

"Once it gets really good, it's probably going to be really good for a while," Konerko said. "It's a different vibe.

"I've talked to some people around here. It's definitely something in my whole time being here, other than maybe my first year, they haven't done this. Pretty interesting. We'll see what happens."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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