White Sox

Moment finally arrives for Paul Konerko as White Sox retire No. 14


Moment finally arrives for Paul Konerko as White Sox retire No. 14

Chaos ensued at U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday when the White Sox retired Paul Konerko’s No. 14.

His microphone cut out during his speech and in the middle of one of the most important parts: his address to the fans. And who was the coolest, calmest and most collected person in the building?

Captain Paul Konerko, of course.

He brushed it off like a fastball to the face from Jeff Samardzija — a memory that the crowd, Konerko and, of course, Samardzija had a good laugh about during the ceremony — and displayed the lovable character that had everyone chanting “Paulie.”

“And that's how I learned about meaning of life,” Konerko said laughing when the microphone turned back on.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Paul Konerko on future: 'Maybe I'm good at something else']

On a picture-perfect day, the beloved former first baseman was overcome by an emotional ceremony as the the White Sox retired his number in front of a sold out crowd on the South Side.

Konerko admitted that speeches aren’t exactly within the realm of his comfort zone. Even White Sox manager Robin Ventura was intrigued to see how his former player’s speech would go. But in the only way he knows how, Konerko thanked everyone that showed up to his ceremony from first baseman Jim Thome to former manager Ozzie Guillen to the fans.

Guillen, who received a huge ovation from the fans, lauded Konerko’s well-known work ethic and said had an impact on everyone he was around.

“I think one to be here, the reason I am who I am is because of No. 14,” Guillen said. “That guy he was outstanding, he make everybody around him play better. He makes everybody around him be better. As long as I don’t have to work, I be here and this is a special day: not just for him but for me and my family also. This guy, he makes our life very happy.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Paul Konerko supports Guillen: 'I'm an Ozzie guy']

Two of the people Konerko thanked the most were his hitting coaches, Greg Walker and Mike Gellinger. Both made note of the slugger’s tremendous attitude, and Walker, who was with the White Sox from 2003 to 2011, said Konerko was a rare specimen in baseball because of his mental approach.

“He’s a perfectionist in a tough game to be a perfectionist,” Walker said. “He’s brilliant. I’ve been a hitting coach for a long time up until this year, and I never ran around anybody that could process information at game speed the way he could. If anybody else tried to copy, they had no chance.”

One element of the ceremony Konerko enjoyed the most was how soon this event took place from when he retired. The former first baseman discussed after the ceremony how often he sees successful players not get recognized for their achievements until years have passed.

“It’s just another class move by (White Sox chariman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) to say we know what it is and let’s just do it and get it over with,” Konerko said. “I hope that’s a trend to start with some other teams like what’s there to wait for?”

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get a Paul Konerko jersey right here]

Reinsdorf said Konerko’s number being retired is “one of baseball’s highest honors” and that Konerko “deservedly belongs with all of the other White Sox greats who have starred over the many decades.”

Konerko had ample time to prepare for this moment, but the cool, calm and collected darling of the South Side confessed the sight of his name next to the likes of Harold Baines, Frank Thomas and Minnie Minoso, to name a few, got him emotional.

“You know it's going up there, and I had known it's been going up there for a while," he said. "But when you actually see it, a lot of things flash across your mind, a lot of work, a lot of things back when you're young in high school, in the minor leagues, you have those thoughts about stuff, a lot of the struggles to get to that. It was meaningful.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”