KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The road doesn’t get easier for veterans like Paul Konerko as the years and injuries continue to build up.
For the 36-year-old Konerko, however, that road usually ends up at an All-Star Game, in this case at Kauffman Stadium. The Chicago White Sox captain leads a contingent of four players representing the 2012 Central Division leaders on the American League squad.
Konerko is looking forward to watching teammate Chris Sale make his first All-Star Game appearance.
“He has been excited for a while, asking me questions about the ins and outs of the day,”the White Sox first baseman said. “I remember going to the first one and no matter how many you go to the first one is always the most special. Don’t think there is any doubt about that.”
This will be Konerko’s sixth Midsummer Classic and he is bringing his youngest boy, Owen, for the father-and-son experience.
“Last year the game was in Arizona, so that was home and special for me so anything like this is icing on the cake,” Konerko said. “My oldest son asked about the toy stores in K.C. and I said they probably weren’t very good so he wanted to take a pass. The game is like the rest of the season where the wife and kids take a backseat to a lot of stuff and that is how it is for seven and a half months. The other four and half months you go home and are told what to do during that time.”
Konerko has done well in past All-Star competitions, sporting a .500 average (4-for-8).
“The last two games I have been shut out so I’d like to get back into the hit mode,” he said. “You try to have fun with it, but it does count for something important and you know you are going to face a quality pitcher in every at-bat you get.”
Most All-Stars enjoy the first day activities more than the game on Tuesday. The Home Run Derby is baseball’s equivalent to a day at Six Flags.
“I really like the Home Run Derby. It’s pretty fun to watch where guys can hit them,” Konerko said. “As a player you know these parks from playing and taking batting practice. You know where balls can’t be hit, but then you see them sail into new areas, and the adrenaline the crowd brings. Some people like it better than the game.”
Konerko is looking forward to the backdrop of Kauffman Stadium as a bonus for this year’s game.
“Kauffman is a beautiful stadium and I don’t know if TV can do it justice,” Konerko said. “The ballpark is so well maintained and it is such a great, great setting for this type of game. Just a great place to play.”