NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With the Chicago White Sox's fade down the stretch still fresh in his mind, manager Robin Ventura has ideas on how to avoid another year of September exhaustion.
Konerko’s production tailed off as the season wore on. In April he delivered a 1.123 OPS, while in May that mark was 1.074. While it wasn’t a pace anybody could have reasonably expected him to keep, he still tailed off considerably to a .680 OPS in August and a .773 mark in September and the first few days of October.
“I think, for Paulie, what goes on through the course of the year is a lot,” Ventura said Tuesday at the annual winter meetings. “It’s a lot to have him be the everyday first baseman. I think Adam proved to be at the end he can play first base and give Paulie more time and when you get to that age, not that he’s done by any means, it’s going to help him to have time off and not be on his feet so much.”
Despite the fact that he will turn 37 during spring training, it’s not like Konerko will receive the plan with open arms. And if any White Sox player could talk Ventura out of a plan it probably would be Konerko.
But there was no denying the White Sox faded toward the end of the season, not that it was simply Konerko’s fault.
Young pitchers like Addison Reed and Jose Quintana went through erratic stretches during the season, and Ventura has pinpointed the cause on going through the rigors of a major league season for the first time. In Reed’s case, four of the six home runs he allowed were in the season’s final two months.
“When you lose, you can use a bunch of different words to describe it,” Ventura said. “You are outplayed because you didn't win. Were you fatigued? Yeah, but so was everybody else. Did you choke? Yeah. You can say it in a way that, if you don't win, you choke anyway. It just didn't happen. Our worst stretch of baseball happened at the very end.”
One thing that will help to overcome fatigue has nothing to do with how Ventura handles his club during the upcoming season.
“I think that’s what happened to a lot of our guys that are young, they are realizing how long of a season it is and how maybe to conserve a little energy here and there during the middle of the season,” Ventura said. “But passion-wise and the effort they give isn’t the question. It’s getting that experience of going through 162 games and being ready most every night, which isn’t easy.”