“If we didn’t want it to get to a situation in September where they were going to be calling up young guys, putting guys in, sitting down older guys, then we should be better in the standings,” Konerko said. “We should have earned that right and we haven’t done that. I don’t think anybody can take exception that. It’s kind of the way of the baseball world.”
It remains unclear who the White Sox will call up when rosters expand next week, although general manager Rick Hahn already has made it clear that Marcus Semien will be one of a handful of players.
As the White Sox entered play Wednesday on a seven-game losing streak, the late-season play is starting to resemble last season when a stagnant White Sox team finished with 99 losses. Konerko returned for one more year to get the taste of last year out of his mouth, and despite the team struggles again this year, he has been able to get some personal closure.
“I think so,” Konerko said. “I’ve never had the thought all year of, ‘Why did I do this?’ So that means to me that it was right. I think I would have probably had that thought that had I not come back.
“To me, the six-month season is where it’s at, so the closure will be when I wrap it up right and walk away from it knowing that not only the whole career but this year, I came, I showed up from spring training on, I worked the whole 7½ months and gave it my all, and combined those with the other years, I walk away from it. I definitely have no regrets about coming back.”
The White Sox plan to honor Konerko during each of the 11 home games in September, even creating a Konerko seating section in the left-field stands. And with the White Sox out of playoff contention, Konerko’s bench role will be expanded so he gets more at-bats.
“We’ll see some lefties in there (in September) but I’m sure he’ll get a few more at-bats just for everybody’s sake,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s important to us to have him play quite a bit in that last weekend that we’re home if he can do it. If he can pull it off. I know a few of the days in a row that he has played (he’s been sore). I don’t know if we’ll get all four out of him, but we can get a few.”
The White Sox end the season with a four-game home series against the Kansas City Royals Sept. 25-28.
Konerko joked that four in a row might be pushing it.
“If they play me too much, I might demand a trade,” Konerko said with a smile. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It would take me a while to get in shape again. I play like two games in a row and I’m sore now.”
All kidding aside, Konerko knows that he has the rest of his days in retirement to recover from any excess soreness and is willing to play as much as Ventura requests.
“I caught probably as good of a manager as you could in this situation like mine,” Konerko said. “He’s a guy who played for a long time and had a career that was similar. He was a good guy to play underneath because I think he understands everything that I had to go through this year and I’m still going through.
He’s made it real easy for me. There’s not one thing he could do to me or not do for me. He’s good in my book forever. He definitely made this year a lot more fun for me and a lot better for me because he was the manager. Whatever he wants, I’ll do whatever he needs.”
Once the season ends, the first thing on Konerko’s docket is coaching … just not on the minor or major league level. He said he already has an assignment to coach his 6-year-old son’s youth fall league.
“Yeah, it’s all going to be about family and my kids and stuff,” Konerko said. “Baseball, come a month from now, will take a back seat to everything. If there is something inside me down the road that says ‘Hey, do you want to get involved in this?’ then maybe I’ll do it, but I can tell you, as I sit here today there is nothing inside me that says I will do anything (with coaching).”