Chicago White Sox team leader Paul Konerko helped define the dynamic of being a good teammate and staying positive despite the adversity of a lost season. The Sox captain said this has been the toughest season for him and the franchise since he arrived in Chicago for the 1999 season.
”The easiest thing to do when you're with the same guys every day and things haven’t gone well is to be at each other’s throats,” he said. “That hasn’t happened here, and I have to give everybody credit because all the ingredients are there. The recipe is there for that to happen. Not only has that not happened but many guys have gone out of their way to recognize players for good efforts even if they have made outs.”
With a .400 winning percentage, Konerko and his teammates are projected to have a final record of 64-98. “I would say that, sadly, the one area we have been good at is being supportive teammates,” he said. “That is nice to see in a 10-2 blowout the guys giving their props to one of our relievers for having a good inning.”
A lot of the credit goes to Konerko himself. The leadership he has displayed and his even-keeled manner have set the tone for newcomers from other clubs and rookies alike. Despite the fact that he has been injured and performed below his own high standards, the 37-year-old Arizona native will still defend a teammate who is down and out.
Case in point: Alex Rios and his non-hustle play early last week. Rios was benched in the middle of a game against Detroit for not running out a ball to first base. “In my mind Alex has been one of the few bright spots for us,” Konerko said. "I can tell you inside this clubhouse, he is one man that has showed up to play every night. He and Alexei [Ramirez] have shown up every day and have played just about every inning. Sometimes you get caught up in something; he is a human being like anyone else. I can assure you that none of us in here think Alex doesn’t show up to play every day.
"If you look at the numbers and the games played, you know Alex has showed up for us.”
The White Sox try to focus on the old "one day at a time" cliché with a lost season to play out. “We are in the mindset of showing up and taking it for what it is. Play hard for nine innings and take pride in leaving it out there," Konerko said. “Just like when you were a little league kid. It is easy to play when everything is going well and you are in first place. It would be easy to pout and find a million reasons not to give everything you got.
"You somehow have to block that kind of stuff out and find the reasons to do it right. We have a responsibility to the fans and ourselves to give everything we got.”