Konerko likely to return on Tuesday

CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko is looking forward to returning to action with the Chicago White Sox next week, while also contemplating the possibility of finishing the year someplace else.

Sox manager Robin Ventura said Sunday that Konerko would be available to pinch hit and he would most likely start on Tuesday when the White Sox open a series with Baltimore.

Konerko, who has been sidelined with lower back soreness since June 25, had an MRI on June 26 and a series of pain relieving shots on June 28.

White Sox GM Rick Hahn acknowledged on Sunday that while he’s not ready to sell just yet, with the team’s record at 32-46 he is starting the process of listening to trade proposals from other teams. Konerko, who has 10-5 no-trade protection rights, may have to decide if he will accept a deal after playing 15 years in Chicago.

“Look, anybody who is older and making money is in that conversation that Rick is talking about,” Konerko said. “If that is the way it goes and they end up trading a bunch of guys, as a team we have to look at it like we earned that. We are 80 games in and we are at where we are at.”

Konerko has been one of the top players in the league since he was traded to the White Sox from Cincinnati in November of 1998. He is aware that at this juncture of his career, with free agency pending in the offseason, he may be asked to accept a deal.

“It is nice to know you have to be talked to first,” he said. “I don’t really know (what to say), this is all new territory for me. I know this, I am really not threatened by anything like this. I get my work in and at some point you just throw your hands up in the air and say I have done everything I can do, whether it goes this way or that way. If it happens, it happens and I will deal with it then.”

Hahn has said in the past there are no untouchable players, although many would be next to unavailable.

“You do have to look at the big picture sometimes and the fact if they are coming to you to ask,” Konerko said. “80 to 90 percent of the time when a guy is in that situation it always seems it gets worked out. You don’t want to be where (they don’t want you) but this is sports and this is a business and sometimes teams change directions. I guess I can say it’s been pretty lucky that only one time in 15 years this has been an issue.”

Konerko is in the last year of a three-year deal. There is a shade over $7 million left on his salary for this season.