Konerko honored by Cubs’ classy move

Paul Konerko and Jeff Samardzija have been tied together as part of the Crosstown Cup White Sox/Cubs rivalry since Samardzija hit the White Sox captain in the left side of the face with a pitch in the third inning of a May 18, 2012 contest at Wrigley Field.

With that unfortunate moment now well in their past, it seemed only fitting that Samardzija would present Konerko with a retirement gift from the Cubs prior to Tuesday’s contest in Konerko’s last game at Wrigley.

“It was kind of fitting that he gave it to me and he’s doing great right now,” said Konerko of Samardzija. “Good for him.”

“I was asked to do it and jumped on the opportunity right away,” Samardzija said. “When the whole thing went down when I hit him, the first thing I said was it’s the worst guy it could happen to because I respect him more than anyone in this game.”

Konerko was presented with the No. 14 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard, representing his jersey number. He is certainly not on any sort of retirement tour and isn’t looking for gifts at each final stop. But Konerko definitely appreciated the pregame gesture.

“That was cool. Classy move by them. I mean I certainly didn’t expect it and it’s really cool that they gave me it,” Konerko said. “That’ll definitely go up in the house somewhere. You grow up watching games on TV at Wrigley Field and you know the history.

“The fact that you can go out and play your career and at the end of it you’re at a place like that where if you do something at the place, it’s pretty neat. It’s definitely not lost on me how cool that is. I definitely took it in, and that was nice.”

A healthy dose of respect also exists between the presenter and recipient Tuesday.

“You talk about losing two guys in the game like [Derek] Jeter and Konerko, it’s tough. It’s bad for the game,” Samardzija said. “We love to see those guys and how long they played and we’d love to see them keep playing. Outstanding man, and hopefully he has a strong year to end it and enjoys it too and enjoys the run he had and soaks it all in.”

“He’s a good guy. He’s doing great,” said Konerko of Samardzija. “I’m a fan of his as far as the way he pitches and he’s aggressive out there and he swings the bat well on top of it. I don’t know him well; I’ve met him a few times off the field but you know his teammates really like him and he’s respected over there. The guys that are with him every day, they’re not going to be wrong on that stuff.”

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