The White Sox made it pretty clear that their number one priority this offseason was re-signing Paul Konerko. They can check that off the list. It wasn’t easy to keep Konerko on the South Side , but he and the White Sox agreed to a three-year, $37.5 million deal which could allow him to finish his career with the same team that he has played for the last 12 years. Konerko, who will be 35 on Opening Day, is coming off one of his best seasons where he hit .312 with 39 homeruns and 111 RBI’s. With Konerko re-signed and Adam Dunn added to the line up, the White Sox have their eyes on a Central Division title and maybe even more.
Paul Konerko joined ESPN 1000 in Chicago with the Afternoon Saloon to talk about how happy he is to re-sign with the White Sox, what he thinks of the addition of Adam Dunn, how long he expects to keep playing, and whether or not he ever expected to be with one team for so long.
On being resigned by the White Sox:
“That was my biggest preference was to come back, but I didn’t know how it was going to go I gotta tell ya. I didn’t know from the start of the offseason, till a couple days ago, till yesterday I didn’t know where we were going to go with this because I didn’t know how things were gonna work out. I was prepared to move on. Obviously I was hoping I didn’t have to, but in these situations you have to be flexible and you have to know that sometimes it’s nothing you did, it’s just they work out the wrong way. I didn’t really know up until last night probably seven o’clock my time that it was going to be done. It’s definitely a relief to have it done and I’m happy to come back.”
On Adam Dunn:
“There’s no doubt, he’s a monster, he’s gonna hit a lot of homeruns, he’s gonna drive in a lot of runs, he’s gonna walk a lot, and I don’t even know where I’m gonna hit in the lineup, my guess is I’m gonna be behind him, but he’s a force. He’s the kinda guy that makes everybody take notice and makes everybody pitch different to the guy in front of him and the guy behind him and he’s coming into his prime right now. He’s playing in some ballparks that are tough to hit in and he makes them look small. He should do just fine with us. Obviously there’s going to be some sort of mini adjustment to the American League with new parks and new pitchers he’s gonna face, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.”
On how long he expects to keep playing:
“I think the worst thing that you can do is once you put a finish line up you won’t get the most out of yourself. That’s the thing that someone like me has to guard against as far as if I sit there and say it’s these three years and I’m done. Chances are sometime in the middle of the second or third year the team is not going to get what they want out of me. You can’t let that happen. You take every year for what it is and you go hard. You break it down even smaller than that to every at bat and you keep trucking through that. If three years from now I look up and I still feel good and I’m still producing and people want me, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. You can’t come back when you’re fifty. That’s kind of the way I look at it. There’s enough people out there that thought I could play this amount of time after talking to teams and after while you sit there and say well this is kinda normal. If other teams think that they would be willing to go to three years and let me play that long, you kidna feel like that’s what you can do. There’s other people at 36, 37, or 38 that have had great years and last year I played the game physically as easy since I did since 2004 for whatever reason. I hopefully I just keep doing my work and that continues.”
On whether or not he thought he would be with one team this year:
“Not really. Things are so fragile. Sometimes it’s a lot out of your control and really is something that has to work out with a lot of luck and also with when you get to know the people you’re working with and they know you, hopefully it just gets to a point where you’ve done enough and they trust you enough to where they want to keep you. Most times what happens is you wear your welcome out somewhere along the line there so I feel lucky that I’m going out with the chance where it will be 15 years when it’s said and done and that just doesn’t happen in this day and age anymore. To me all the numbers, the homeruns, and the everything, is nothing compared to a World Series and hopefully one more let’s say and being in one place for 15 years. That means more to me than the numbers.”
Listen to Paul Konerko ESPN Radio Chicago here (Audio begins 1:48:25 into the podcast)