Shortly after being swept by the Kansas City Royals, Konerko was asked if the upcoming trade deadline has been taking a toll on the clubhouse.
“Not really,” Konerko said. “I mean, we were [expletive] before the rumors. That’s a fact. We were, going back to a long time ago.”
It has not gone the way Konerko would have drawn up what is expected to be his last season on the South Side after 15 years with the White Sox. The team started slow, made a push in May to reach the .500 mark (24-24) and then collapsed during a stretch of games in June when they were facing mostly teams under .500.
“If you’re one of those guys [in rumors], you just kind of spin it into 'the team you’re going to wants you and you’re probably going to gain some games in the win column,'” Konerko said. “The average player, if you play long enough, eight- to-10-year career, I think the average is three or four teams. Even me, it’s three teams. It’s been one for a long time but it’s three teams. It’s just normal. It’s part of the game.”
The losing and the rumors have led the final 72 hours before the non-waiver trade deadline. Jake Peavy had extra suitcases packed in anticipation of being sent to a contender, and the rest of the team members are raising an eyebrow when their phones ring.
Matt Thornton has already been sent to the Boston Red Sox. Alex Rios could be on his way to Pittsburgh or Texas, depending on the rumor. Peavy has been linked to the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics and Red Sox. Alexei Ramirez has reportedly piqued the interest of the Cardinals, and even injured reliever Jesse Crain is starting to squeeze his way into rumors.
The White Sox sure seemed like a distracted team over the past week, losing six of seven games to the Royals and Detroit Tigers. But like Konerko said, the losing is nothing new.
The pitching has been solid, especially over the weekend, when the Royals were held in check. But when your offense scores four runs in three games, sweeps are bound to happen.
The White Sox’s Sunday starter, Hector Santiago, held the Royals to two runs in 6 2/3 innings and has been trying to take all the trade talk in stride. He hasn’t been mentioned in any rumors, but like Konerko, he was asked if things are taking a toll.
“For the most part, we know what's going to happen and if it does happen, it happens,” Santiago said. “But I think we're just doing our business, going out there and getting the job done. And if it happens, pat [them] on the back and say, 'Hey, nice playing with you,' or whatever. It's coming down to the wire right now in two days. We don't know what's happening and we can't control that, but we just try not to think about it and go out there and do the same thing every day.”
Konerko said the team is handling things as well as can be expected, even if the results on the field don’t seem to be backing up his point.
“Every now and again you get your guy who doesn’t get the business end of it, but not in this clubhouse this year,” Konerko said. “Everybody knows that’s just part of the deal. Rumors of trades and all that are as part of the game as rain delays and whatever else. Guys in here know that.”
Peavy took in the game with his teammates and afterward walked out of the home clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field, probably for the last time. He was asked if it was odd to talk about leaving.
“Well, it's kind of becoming normal,” Peavy said, a reference to the fact that he is asked about trades nearly every day. “Honestly, if you guys put yourself in my position, it does me no good to sit around and contemplate what's going to happen, what I've heard. You can imagine what my phone's been like with texts from anybody and everybody.
“It's something that I really don't worry too much about. You just kinda let life happen and you react when something is set in stone. Of course you take it all in, the reality of the situation is this could be my last time in the clubhouse with the guys here at U.S. Cellular. But if it is, it is; if it wasn't, it wasn't. We'll just show up tomorrow ready to work in Cleveland.”
The White Sox open a four-game series against the Indians on Monday. By the time the series ends, the trade deadline will have passed and the White Sox can move on to the process of mending and pointing toward how soon they feel they can be successful again.
“Every day's the same thing,” Santiago said. “You get asked about it and it's kind of like, 'Hurry up and get here so we can get past it and just forget about it and if it happens it happens.'”
Asked if he would be open to moving to a different team if the White Sox approached him, Konerko didn’t want to discuss the subject. He has no-trade rights and could block a potential move.
But he knows changes of some kind are coming soon.
“There will probably be some [trades]; maybe we make one or two, I don’t know,” he said. “And there will probably be other ones as it comes down the line to Wednesday. But it’s not like normal compared to like what it was few years ago or 10 years ago.
“I have a feeling that this is the way it’s going to be. If you know the business side of it a little bit and if you just know some things on the inside and pay attention to it, people are just really holding on to their young prospects. They don’t want to make deals where they give those guys up. So it kind of makes sense.”