Results tagged ‘ Paul Konerko ’

Lilli to the Rescue as Sox Nip Yanks

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In the most improbable of endings, pinch-runner turned defensive replacement Brent Lillibridge (shown above being congratulated by Juan Pierre) stunned the 41,000 onlookers at Yankee Stadium tonight with two of the finest catches you’ll ever see, resulting in a thrilling 3-2 Pale Hose victory. Adding to the drama was that he robbed the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Robby Cano back-to-back with the tying and winning runs on base to end the game.
The amazing turn of events prompted Ozzie to come up with the quote of the night. “I think I finally found my closer–Lillibridge.”
Lilli’s heroics from his spot in right field and the subsequent Sox triumph were preceded by a stellar outing by Gavin Floyd and a clutch two-run homer by Paul Konerko. Floyd, who gave up only solo homers to Cano and Brett Gardner and two singles to Derek Jeter, struck out 10 in eight plus innings. Paulie’s blast gave the Sox the lead in the eighth–a margin they never relinquished, thanks to Lillibridge’s defensive wizardry.
Any two wins after beginning the road trip 1-6 would be welcome. But the fact we’ve won two close games against the Yankees in New York is special. How special? check out this fact:
It was the first time the White Sox overcame a deficit in the eighth inning or later to beat the Yankees in New York since 1996.
There was also a bonus moment for Sox fans when the cameras focused on Jeter’s expression of frustration and bewilderment after Lillibridge’s game-ending gem. He owes us a few of those.
Full disclosure: Readers of this blog know full well I’m not Lillibridge’s biggest fan–in fact, Sox Posse member Tim Clodjeaux reminded me of that tonight. I’ve said more than once that a player with his specific skills needs to be smart and do the little things. Too often Lilli has made mental mistakes and physical errors that have cost the Sox. But the two catches he made this evening were nothing less than magnificent and he deserves every accolade that will be bestowed upon him in the days ahead.

Sox Elders Calm in Eye of Early Season Storm

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While White Sox fans are angry and frustrated over the 8-12 start and the fact the South Siders couldn’t continue the momentum from Thursday’s win in Tampa last night in Motown, the players are taking the slump in stride.
On one hand, their calm reaction is maddening as we fans are so hungry for some semblance of success. On the other hand, it shows the distinct difference between athletes and fans. We panic, they don’t. And that’s a good thing in a 162-game season.
Paul Konerko, who is off to a good start with a .329 BA, five homers and 16 RBI, and Mark Buehrle, who is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA, were asked by the media if the Sox should have a sense of urgency.
“Never,” said the Sox captain. “Because a sense of urgency makes you play worse. You’re playing with urgency, that means tension. Tension will never lead to good things. So of course we want to play better and have better results, but you just have to know you’re going about it right.”
Buehrle added, “We have plenty of time. Twenty games in, it’s way too early to be worrying about that. I think we’re fine. If we get to the All-Star break and are struggling, you might think about it.”
Got it, guys. Now go out and win some games.

SoxFest Day 2: The Chairman Explains “All In” Philosophy and Konerko Bullish About 2011

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The most fascinating news item coming out of the second day of SoxFest was Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf‘s explanation of why the Sox took the “All In” route in 2011 as opposed to entering the season with a younger, less expensive product.
Reinsdorf, who has been given a bad rap over the years for NOT spending, went above and beyond this offseason by increasing the payroll by more than $20 million.
Here are some of the comments from the man who has won seven titles–six with the Bulls and in 2005 with the White Sox–courtesy of MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:
“Last year was a difficult year. We weren’t as good as we thought we could be. Our attendance was down. Financially, it came out OK. 

“Thinking about this year, we had to make a decision for the long term: Were we better off to try to get better or were we better off to use this as a rebuilding year? That’s the thing that took us a long time to make up our mind.

“Finally, I just decided like two days before the Adam Dunn signing, ‘Let’s go for it.’ Let’s hope if we spend the money, the attendance will pick up and once we committed to Adam Dunn, then we had to be all in. Then it had to be (Paul Konerko) and we had to bring A.J. back.”

More from SoxFest:

* Another inside tidbit that was revealed yesterday involved Pierzynski. Apparently he was a phone call away from signing with the Dodgers, but because LA ownership was unavailable to approve some the of language, A.J. changed course and accepted the Sox offer through his agent. Because of the delicate nature of the circumstances, Pierzynski even called Reinsdorf to make sure the offer was real.
* In addition to relating the story behind his signing, A.J. endorsed another Sox offseason signing (via Merkin): “I told (Don Cooper), ‘We need another lefty. We need another lefty. We need another lefty.’ Going out and getting Will Ohman was huge. He can get lefties out. Look at our division with Mauer, Morneau, Choo, Sizemore…You have to have more than one lefty available to go through a lineup three times. People look at the eighth inning, but what about the sixth inning when you have the bases loaded with two out and Joe Mauer up and you have an extra lefty. Will Ohman is that guy.”

* Kenny Williams indicated that outfielder Alejandro De Aza, infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge and Dayan Viciedo, who is now learning how to play the outfield in addition to his previous experience at the two infield corner positions, will be fighting it out for the final utility spot on the roster. Williams also offered that De Aza is better than people think he is.
* Ozzie predicted that Carlos Quentin will revert back to his 2008 form when he was vying for the league MVP award before an injury cut his season short with a month to go. CQ slugged 36 homers, drove in 100 runs, batted .288 with a .965 OPS in ’08.
* Sox captain Konerko sees good things ahead for the 2011 Sox, as reported by Mark Gonzales in today’s Tribune: “Everyone has their opinions on who is good and who isn’t in baseball, and people have their advice and thoughts. But you’d be hard-pressed to say, ‘there’s a gaping hole there’ or ‘this is a real problem that is going to affect them.’ We’re pretty solid everywhere you look with everything you need.”

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Day 1: SoxFest More Like an OzzieFest

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The first day of the annual SoxFest celebration turned out to be quite a day for the Sox skipper.
A group of fans broke out into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” in honor of Ozzie’s 47th (celebrated on Thursday), a brand new website, ozzieguillen.com, was launched and, most significantly, the Sox picked up Guillen’s option for 2012.
The extension wasn’t a sure thing as we all know. After a hellish (Ozzie’s sentiments, not mine) summer where he bickered with GM Kenny Williams, dealt with his son Oney‘s annoying tweeting (my view, not Ozzie’s) and was on the verge of being traded to the Marlins, Guillen’s future was certainly in doubt. But when all was said and done, Williams had his back.
“I’ve never doubted the man’s managerial ability and the ability to pull people together,” Williams said at SoxFest, according to Mark Gonzales of the Tribune.  “Listen, we all can get off track a little bit, and we (did) last year. All I want us to do is to get back on track and focus on the baseball team and the fans. They’re hand in hand. Everything else, I want out of the equation.

“And I wanted to get that (option) thing behind and move on and enjoy the game. I always enjoy the game. Go about my business the way I always do. We know it was a tough season last year. We just put everything behind, and everything goes well.”
More from SoxFest:
* It was apparent that the GM was unhappy with his pitching coach Don Cooper‘s comment that he would prefer that Chris Sale prepare for a single role as opposed to preparing to be a starter and reliever. Here’s Williams’ view: “…to have Sale prepare as a reliever and take away one or two of his pitches, because that’s what guys tend to do, I don’t think it’s wise. My pitching coach will ultimately fall in line with his general manager and his manager. Coop should probably speak to us before he speaks to you guys.”

* Sale’s immediate future, of course, will depend largely on Jake Peavy‘s progress. Reports range from he’ll be ready on Opening Day to him stepping into the rotation by May 1.
* Mark Buehrle is the latest Sox star to be headed into his “walk” year. Where does he stand? “If I have a good year and something happens, there’s an opportunity out there to sign and I’m open to it. I’ll talk with the wife and play for a couple more years, possibly. So we’ll see. It’s a long year. If I decide to retire at the end, I’ll retire. If not, I’ll sign somewhere.”

* With third base (Brent Morel, Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel) and first base (Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn) spoken for, Williams indicated that Dayan Viciedo is spending time learning how to play outfield to give him a shot at the Opening Day roster. The GM says Viciedo has done well so far.

58945940.jpgMatt Thornton, decked out in a Brian Urlacher jersey at yesterday’s SoxFest, shows where his football loyalty lies.

The 12 Days of White Sox Christmas


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In the spirit of the season…

The First Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…1 great offseason, filling our stocking with a load of talent–and hope–for the upcoming season.
The Second Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…2 free agents with Sox World Series rings in Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.
The Third Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…3 possible closers in Matt Thornton, Chris Sale and, if needed, newcomer Jesse Crain.

The Fourth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…at least 4 solid starters in Mark Buehrle, Edwin JacksonJohn Danks and Gavin Floyd. Make it five if Jake Peavy recovers from his injury and six if Sale is in the rotation.

The Fifth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…A solid No. 5 hitter from a talented group who, from what Ozzie has indicated, could very well be Alex Rios–hitting behind the powerhouse duo of Adam Dunn in the three hole and Paulie batting cleanup.

The Sixth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…The annual 6 games against the Cubs next season–three at home on May 20, 21, 22 and three at Wrigley Field on 
July 1, 2, 3.

The Seventh Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…a 7-game homestand leading up to the ’11 All-Star Game in Phoenix against the Royals and hated Twins as the Sox attempt to match last year’s first-place standing at the break.

The Eighth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…8 games against the 
Yankees in 2011–four in April (25, 26, 27, 28) at Yankee Stadium and four in August (1, 2, 3, 4) at the Cell.

The Ninth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…No. 9, Sox icon Minnie Minoso, who is still going strong after celebrating his 85th birthday last month.

The Tenth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…A 10-game opening homestand after starting the year with five games on the road in Cleveland and Kansas City. The Sox will face the Rays, A’s and Angels at the Cell from April 7-17.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…No. 11 on the back of Omar Vizquel‘s uniform, as the future Hall of Famer honors the great Luis Aparicio for the second straight year after an outstanding first season on the South Side.
The Twelfth Day of Christmas the White Sox gave to me…All in all, a whole lot to look forward to as we head into 2011.
Happy Holidays!
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What Paul Konerko Means to the White Sox

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Last week’s signing of Paul Konerko was unlike any other transaction in recent memory. It wasn’t your routine, everyday free agent acquisition because of how SoxWorld feels about their All-Star slugger. The outpouring of joy over Konerko’s return has been as much about who he is as a person and what he represents as the impressive numbers he’s produced between the white lines.
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in no uncertain terms that Paulie belongs in Chicago. GM Kenny Williams observed that it would be funny to see him in another uniform. Teammate Gordon Beckham expressed how much Konerko has helped him become a major leaguer and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey put it beautifully when he wrote that Konerko is the “quintessential leader by example.”
In his 12 seasons on the South Side, Konerko has endeared himself to the Sox organization and fans alike. Here are some reasons why No. 14 is so beloved.
*  Let’s begin with the obvious–the numbers. In his tenure with the Sox, Konerko has slugged 358 homers, driven in 1127 runs, compiled a respectable .282 batting average and has batted .300 or better three times. He has hit 40 or more homers twice, 30 or more six times and 20 or more on 11 occasions. Paulie has driven in 100 or more runs five times and 90 or more in eight seasons with a .358 on base percentage and .505 slugging mark, giving him an OPS of .863. In the postseason (2000, 2005, 2008) he has hit seven homers and driven in 17 runs.

*  Konerko’s offensive rank in Sox history is quite impressive as well. He’s second in home runs and RBIs to only future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, is tied for third in doubles with Hall of Famer Nellie Fox (behind Thomas and Hall of Famer Luke Appling) and is fifth in runs scored behind Thomas, Appling, Fox and Eddie Collins, who is also enshrined in Cooperstown.

*  He’s a Chicago guy–a modest, hard-working, team player who, as Morrissey wrote, is a leader by example. The captain title its him perfectly and the fact he has chosen NOT to wear the “C” on his uniform speaks volumes about his humble nature.

*  Konerko was at the heart of the 2005 World Champions, delivering in the clutch time and time again. We certainly won’t forget his grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series, key homers in the ALCS against the Angels and that he appropriately made the final putout in the division clincher in Detroit and all three playoff series.

*  His gesture of presenting Reinsdorf with the ball from the final out of the World Series at the victory parade has become legend and yet another example of Paulie’s character. In contrast, just the year before, Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz threatened to keep the ball from the final out and was sued by the team before it was decided that the ball would be displayed at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Why did Konerko do it? Paulie simply said it was because Reinsdorf deserves to have it. And it’s important to note that the Chairman called the moment the most emotional of his life.

*  He has been involved in numerous charitable endeavors. Among them has been his participation in the Children’s Home & Aid “Bring Me Home” campaign with former teammate Jim Thome in support of foster families.

*  Only nine White Sox players have had their uniform numbers retired. By signing on with the Sox for another three years and continuing his Sox legacy, we could be celebrating Paulie’s No. 14 as the latest to the list of elite Pale Hosers. And the fans will love when he reaches that mountaintop.
He would join Fox (2), Harold Baines (3), Appling (4), Minnie Minoso (9), Luis Aparicio (11), Ted Lyons (16), Billy Pierce (19), Thomas (35) and Carlton Fisk (72) in the exclusive club. For the record, 38 White Sox have worn the number, including Bill Melton, Hall of Famer Larry Doby and Moose Skowron. But it’s doubtful anyone would have a problem with retiring it for Konerko–or building a statue for him on the outfield concourse to go along with his bronze image on the monument outside of the Cell.
For these reasons and more, Paul Konerko IS the White Sox. It’s true that he played briefly for both the Dodgers and Reds early in his career, but he’s a South Sider through and through and we have accepted him as such deep in our souls.
Welcome back, Paulie.
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Paulie’s Back

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Breathe a sigh of relief, SoxWorld, your captain has returned.
In an 11th hour move, Paul Konerko signed what is reported to be a three-year, $37.5 million dollar contract. It looked very iffy for a while yesterday as Konerko’s demands increased, but the White Sox brass obviously made a convincing case that Paulie belongs on the South Side of Chicago.
So, the White Sox’s Three World Champion Musketeers–Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Buehrle–all will be back to hopefully repeat their 2005 success. Joining them will be a solid starting pitching staff and a powerful lineup, including newcomer Adam Dunn, that should be enough for the Sox to be considered the favorite–at least for now–in the A.L. Central. The only void seems to be a spot or two in the bullpen, which Kenny Williams is undoubtedly addressing as I’m writing this blog.
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Sox-wise and Otherwise: The Hunt for Paul Konerko and the Loss of a Great Sox Fan


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My weekly offseason opinions and observations about the White Sox and more…

The White Sox have surely kept me in blogging mode with all of the activity in the last few days:

–The signing of Dunn (pictured above)
–Getting A.J. back into the fold
–Non-tendering Jenks
–Picking up the Missle‘s option
–Trading Linebrink 

Next on the agenda, according to KW, is the attempt to sign Paulie. Despite the cash the team has just spent for the two most recent free agent signings, Williams has said there’s enough resources left to bring Konerko back to the South Side. In part, this has been made possible by non-tendering Jenks, saving $4 million by letting Linebrink go and the unselfish gestures by Dunn and Pierzynski, who have both agreed to defer salary so the Sox will have the wherewithal to afford Konerko. And maybe a bullpen piece to boot.
Sox Lose a Great Fan

My good friend Kevin “Sully” Sullivan, former Communications Director in the George W. Bush White House who also headed up PR for NBC Sports and the Dallas Mavericks, lost his Dad this week. Timothy J. Sullivan was 89. 
A South Sider to the core, the elder Sullivan passed along his passion for our White Sox to Kevin and his siblings. Sully shared with a group of Sox fan friends that his Dad would have loved the positioning of his death notice–which was right next to the news that the Sox signed Dunn.
May he rest in peace.
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Sox Have Crazy Thursday: Non-Tender Jenks, Sign Dunn, Bring A.J. Back into the Fold and Pick Up Alexei’s Option

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We thought all the action would happen at next week’s annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, but the Sox surprised everyone yesterday with a blockbuster day of moves that began to shape the team for next season.
It was hard to keep up with it all:
First, the Sox picked up the $2.5 option for Alexei Ramirez.
Second, Bobby Jenks was non-tendered.
Third, word came out that the Sox signed slugger Adam Dunn.
Fourth, I woke up this morning to find out that A.J. had signed a two-year deal (to continue my obsession with the ’05 Sox, Mark Buehrle is now assured of having a fellow World Champion as a teammate in 2011).
If that weren’t enough, there’s talk that that signing Paul Konerko is still a possibility. And could J.J. Putz be right behind?
So, what’s behind all of this spending? After Kenny Williams submitted two different budgets–one that would focus on cutting salaries and rebuilding and the other would increase the payroll–this is what was decided, according to Williams:
“The decision was that if we’re going all in, we’re going all in.”
You’ll get no argument from me.
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A Dunn Deal?


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Kenny Williams says he will address the Adam Dunn “rumors” tomorrow afternoon. By all media reports, the slugger has agreed to a four-year, $56 million dollar pact. It will give the Sox a huge bat from the left side–a hitter who has clouted 38 homers in each of the last two years, 40 or more five times and a career total of 354. Now we have to get Paul Konerko into the fold along with a catcher (preferably A.J. Pierzynski) and some bullpen help with Bobby Jenks out of the picture and J.J. Putz a free agent.

I guess the big question is how much talent can we really afford? The answer can’t come soon enough.
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