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Ventura understands Konerko's dilemma

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Before the latest round of questions concerning Paul Konerko's future could even begin pregame Tuesday, the White Sox captain politely but directly tabled the topic.

Konerko appreciates the interest, and understands the media's daily job about as well as any player in the game. But since Spring Training, Konerko has stated this topic would not be discussed during the regular season. As expected, he has held true to his word, even when speculation about his future make its way to social media.

Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- Before the latest round of questions concerning Paul Konerko's future could even begin pregame Tuesday, the White Sox captain politely but directly tabled the topic.

Konerko appreciates the interest, and understands the media's daily job about as well as any player in the game. But since Spring Training, Konerko has stated this topic would not be discussed during the regular season. As expected, he has held true to his word, even when speculation about his future make its way to social media.

Full Game Coverage

"If he wanted to say something, he would," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "I was kind of the same way. Just because somebody comes and asks you a fifth time doesn't mean that's going to be the time to say it.

"When he decides one way or another what he's going to do, he'll let people know. At some point he just gets tired of somebody asking a question and they already know what his first response is going to be."

Ventura can relate to Konerko, in that his stellar 16-year-career came to an end after a stint with the Dodgers in 2004. His situation was different, in that Ventura had 175 plate appearances his final season. Konerko also has played the past 15 years, the truly formative part of his outstanding career, as part of the White Sox, including 433 at-bats this season entering Tuesday's game.

Walking away from the game is tough, according to Ventura, who knew he was retiring a couple of weeks before his announcement.

"You talk about it with your family. You're not 100 percent sure at the time, but I knew toward the end of my last year that I wasn't coming back," Ventura said. "It wasn't like with Paulie, where people want him to do a press conference.

"Even if you're ready, it's tough. When you've been doing this pretty much your whole adult life, whether you're frustrated with it or doing well at it, it becomes harder to know you're not going to be doing it. He knows he's not the guy he was 15 years ago, but he's very productive in the middle of the lineup."

With 426 of his 433 homers coming as part of the White Sox, Konerko sits just 23 behind Frank Thomas for the franchise record. Then again, stats have never driven Konerko.

The regular season ends one week from this Sunday. But Ventura believes his captain and the potential free agent will take a little time before deciding to come back or retire.

"We haven't talked about it. We talked about it a while ago," Ventura said. "He's the kind of guy that if he wants to talk about it, he'll talk about. I would imagine he would probably take a little time.

"There's more to it than simply walking off the field and spending 10 seconds giving an answer. For him, I don't know if it's close or not, but you get tired of [talking about] it."

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

 

Chicago White Sox, Paul Konerko