Cubs first team to honor Konerko

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs were the first opposing team to say farewell to retiring Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko, celebrating the veteran near home plate before the teams played their interleague game Tuesday.

Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija presented Konerko with a No. 14 from the famed Wrigley Field scoreboard. Konerko, who is retiring after 18 big league seasons, acknowledged the ovation from the early arrivals in the crowd.

Having Samardzija present the gift was an interesting choice. In a 2012 interleague game at Wrigley Field, Konerko hit a first-inning home run off Samardzija. In his next at-bat, Samardzija hit Konerko in the face with a breaking ball.

Konerko never showed any animosity about the incident and the two even saw each other that offseason with no hard feelings expressed. Since then, they both participated together in shoot-the-puck promotion at a Chicago Blackhawks game.

Heading into Tuesday’s action, Konerko had played 35 career games at Wrigley Field, batting .311 (37-for-119) with a .521 slugging percentage. He had seven home runs in the historic park with 26 RBIs.