Message from The King
Ask Paul Konerko to define a home run hitter, and he’ll point down the row of lockers at the White Sox home clubhouse to Jim Thome. Or maybe he’ll talk about one-time teammate Frank Thomas.
Even with 314 career long balls, Konerko doesn’t come to the plate looking to go deep. Not even after last night’s three home run explosion. So, Konerko had no problems with knocking out two singles and raising his average to .304 during Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over the Indians.
“You’ve got to watch out because if you try to get too greedy up there, this game has a way of coming back at you and flipping you over and turning around on you,” Konerko said. “I think I had a good approach last night, which was not to try to hit homers and just keep doing that.
“Homers come and go. They come in bunches. They’re like bananas. That’s how you’ve got to treat them. It’s frustrating when you’re not getting them, but just to be productive and get on base, drive in a run here in there, score a run here and there, that’s the goal.”
Konerko talked prior to Wednesday’s win about the trio of ripe bananas picked, as it were, during Tuesday’s 10-6 victory over the Indians. Konerko received two curtain calls, following the grand slam and home run No. 3, and said he heard about the second trip out of the dugout to acknowledge the fans from his teammates.
“You catch a lot of grief,” Konerko said. “With the second curtain call there, guys where saying, ‘You’ve already got one. You don’t need to go back out.’
“I didn’t really know what to do, to be honest. I’ve done it before. You always keep in mind, or I try to, we were winning the game pretty big at that point, you don’t want to show anybody up and make a mockery of it. So I hope I didn’t do that.
“As a player, you always try to kind of think about that when you hit, rounding the bases and celebrating, you don’t want to show anybody up,” Konerko said. “When you’re on the other side of that, it doesn’t feel good. You just make sure that you’re being respectable.”
The White Sox team captain mentioned how the right thumb injury that has bothered him for the past two years was not magically cured with the most recent cortisone shot. He said that the blood flows better in the area when it’s hot and humid, although Wednesday’s game-time temperature was an inexplicable 63 degrees for July 8.
“But it’s always a couple bad jam shots away from getting back,” Konerko said. “So I try to stay on top of it and take care of it when it’s not hurting. I think that’s the key is don’t wait until it gets all inflamed and really starts to hurt.”
In regard to hitting the baseball, Konerko’s key seems to be not doing too much. It’s an especially important philosophy when/if the weather gets hot and humid at hitter friendly U.S. Cellular Field.
“When the ball is jumping out and you sense it in BP, if you’re not careful, you can get out of your approach and try to do too much,” Konerko said. “That can lead you to a bad place. I think it takes some discipline.
“A lot of times when you go to a bigger park, like Detroit or Seattle, you wind up hitting some home runs and driving the ball because you kind of take it out of the equation that you’re going to hit the ball hard. That’s what you should do.
“Walk (hitting coach Greg Walker) and Gelly (assistant hitting coach Mike Gellinger) really stay on top of us to hit the ball hard and to use right center and right field, because when this field is playing well and jumping, you can hit balls out to right field as easy as to left,” Konerko said. “If you keep that approach, usually you wind up hitting some to left, so I think that’s the way to go.”