Konerko feeling good after first HR

Paul Konerko's fifth-inning homer was the 435th of his career, good for 43rd all-time. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

CHICAGO – Though it appeared to be a monumental task, Paul Konerko is actually starting to figure out his herky-jerky, part-time role with this Chicago White Sox team.

Asked to start Saturday at first base with Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley on the mound -- and Jose Abreu reduced to designated-hitter duties because of a sore ankle -- Konerko delivered his first home run of the season.

It was the 435th long ball of his career, moving him past Juan Gonzalez and Andruw Jones for sole possession of 43rd place on the all-time list. It wasn’t enough, though, as the White Sox fell 4-3 to the Diamondbacks, with Konerko grounding out for the final out.

“It’s always nice to get the first home run of the season no matter who you are or where you are at,” Konerko said. “I’ve been swinging well and hitting some balls hard. In the role I’m in, you’d like to go in and do big things, but it’s kind of that back-and-forth between not trying to do too much to where you totally get out of control but you would like to try to be in a good position to drive the ball. It’s a balance between the two.”

It has taken some time, but Konerko’s numbers are on the rise. He entered the game 8-for-18 (.444) since April 22.

“When you are playing every day, you can play around with [things] a little more,” said Konerko, who is batting .375 (18-for-48) with eight home runs and 13 RBIs in 17 career games against Arizona. “You can have some games where you can get small, but when you are not playing as much, you kind of want to get as much as you can out of one game.

“You have to be careful with that because it can get you to some bad [swings]. I’ve been dealing pretty good with that. It was a real good swing [on the home run]. I was happy with it.”

While it was odd to see Konerko take until May 10 to hit his first home run, the captain put it into better perspective.

“I don’t look at it like that, I look at it from the standpoint of I think I’ve started six or seven or eight games, somewhere right in there, and that’s not uncommon for me to hit my first home run somewhere in there, the eighth game of the season,” he said. “I’ve gone 15 or 17 games before my first home run of the season.”

And then he dropped in a classic Konerko zinger for old time's sake, showing that he really is feeling good about things these days.

“That’s how anybody that’s paying attention would look at it,” he said.