Konerko being slowed by bad back

CHICAGO -- A back strain has kept Paul Konerko out of the starting lineup both Wednesday and Friday, with the team captain optimistic he will be available to start Saturday afternoon for the Chicago White Sox against the San Diego Padres.

Konerko said his back started to lock up on him during Tuesda'’s rain-delayed game and it has been giving him problems ever since.

“It’s something that it’s nowhere near where it was last May or June where I was just having trouble standing up straight for days on end,” Konerko said of the back injury that forced him to the disabled list last season. “That’s a whole different story. I think it’s probably related to that as far as the same area and all that, but it’s nothing like it was then.”

The 37-year-old veteran started the season in a bench role, but has received more playing time since Jose Abreu went on the disabled list May 18. Konerko received eight consecutive starts after Abreu’s DL stint was announced, but struggled in those games with a batting average of .133 (4-for-30) and an on-base percentage of .161.

Konerko didn’t play Monday before getting four at-bats in Tuesday’s game that started 42 minutes late because of rain and then was delayed another two hours at the start of the fourth inning.

“You never plan for tomorrow; every game is the biggest game of the year,” Konerko said. “So when you’re in that game you always go (all) out. You just give it everything you’ve got and then sometimes that price gets paid the next day, especially when you’re cranking it up at 11 o’clock in the top of the fourth. That happens and DHing along with that you’re going to take more swings than you probably want to. Hopefully there’s not too many of those left for me.”

If Abreu returns from the DL on Monday, as expected, the White Sox will need a roster spot, but manager Robin Ventura doesn’t believe Konerko is headed for the DL himself.

“I think (Saturday) is probably a better deal for him instead of him starting (Friday) and something creeps back in and you end up losing him for the game,” Ventura said. “He can pinch-hit and do things like that. (Saturday) is probably a better day for him of being 100 percent and starting the game.”