White Sox

Paul Konerko on future: 'Maybe I'm good at something else'

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Paul Konerko on future: 'Maybe I'm good at something else'

Paul Konerko’s future in baseball has the same status it did eight months ago -- non-existent.

At least for now and the foreseeable future, Konerko -- whose number 14 is set to be retired by the White Sox on Saturday afternoon -- has no plans to return to professional baseball. Not only are his children at an age where he doesn’t feel a long-term commitment would be fair to his family, Konerko said he has no interest in any positions, including as a media analyst. He wouldn’t rule out a return but it’s not anything he’d currently consider.

“There could be a day that does happen if I get away from the game long enough and I say, ‘I would like to go and work with Rookie ball hitters or I would like to go,’” Konerko said on Friday. “I don’t know what it could be. It could be anything. If it hits me where I’m like, if you see me at a job, it’s not going to be because I want to get out of the house and just want to go hang out with the guys.

“If you ever see me working a job in baseball, it’s because I’m going to have as much passion to do that job as I did to play. It’s not going to be anything less than that.”

[MORE: Konerko has no regrets on retiring]

The oldest of Konerko’s three children is 10 and the youngest is still a toddler. Having already committed 21 years to professional baseball, Konerko repeatedly has said the next portion of his life is to be dedicated to his family. Eight months after he exited U.S. Cellular Field for the last time as a player, Konerko’s mindset hasn’t changed.

“I just don’t think that’s something for how much I’ve been gone, that I could ever justify doing for something I wanted to do,” Konerko said. “So that’s No. 1 and that’s a big No. 1.”

There’s little doubt within the organization that Konerko could return one day to become a coach, instructor or manager. But current White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t get the sense Konerko has the desire.

“He definitely can,” Ventura said. “Whether he does is a whole other thing. But yeah he definitely can.

“He can do it, it just depends on other factors. He has everything. He can pretty much do everything.”

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Paul Konerko jersey!]

Konerko has made it clear he wouldn’t take a job just to take one -- he would need to be invested. That’s why he doesn’t want to limit himself to baseball.

“If I ever identify something that’s that, then I’ll jump in both feet and really get after it,” Konerko said. “I just can’t see taking a job before that where again it’s just kind of like that’s what you should do because you played for so long. There are a lot of other things in the world that I’m interested in that I want to go see.

“Maybe I’m good at something else.”

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.