Paul Konerko isn’t returning to manage the White Sox anytime soon, despite the team’s former All-Star first baseman fielding plenty of questions about the possibility.
For now, the 40-year-old Konerko, who’s in Year 2 of retirement and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday's Crosstown opener at U.S. Cellular Field, is more concerned with fielding the balls hit or thrown by his seven-year-old son while they’re playing baseball in the park.
“I was in the park, my kid threw me a ball, a ground ball and I booted it,” Konerko said. “And some guy’s walking by the park and said, ‘you used to get that one, Paulie!’”
Konerko is spending plenty of time with his kids — Nicholas, Owen and Amelia — and is also keeping busy by playing a bit of hockey and working on a few business interests. One of those ventures is a T-shirt Konerko helped design, the proceeds of which go toward raising awareness for Sensory Processing Disorder, which Konerko’s oldest son, Nicholas, was born with.
Nicholas was born during the White Sox 2005 run to the franchise’s first World Series title in 88 years, and Konerko’s other two children were born while he was still playing in the majors. Because he missed a good chunk of his kids’ childhoods during baseball’s marathon regular season, Konerko doesn’t have a desire to get back into the game until he accomplishes what he wants as a father.
“I was gone for so long,” Konerko said. “I played for 20 years, and 10 years of that I had kids.”
So a return to baseball won’t happen for Konerko “Until I feel like I’m satisfied with where they’re in a position where I’ve done everything they want to do and they’re older,” he said.
Konerko doesn’t have an itch to coach or manage in the majors, too, thanks to his final season with the White Sox.
[SHOP: Buy a Paul Konerko jersey]
During that 2014 campaign, Konerko appeared in 81 games but also got a taste of what it’s like to be a major league coach. That glimpse into the life of a major league manager or assistant coach, and all the commitments, obligations and criticisms that come with it, led Konerko to walk away from the game “scared straight.”
“If I had not come back my last year, there’s a good chance I would’ve played out 2013 and probably got an itch to come back sooner,” Konerko said. “But my last year, I got a really good feeling of what it’s like to be a coach, because I was on the bench a lot, they kind of let me in on some things more, almost like a player-coach situation. And I think it scared me, because it’s not easy.”
So while some sections of the White Sox fanbase may want Konerko to come back and manage a team that’s “mired in mediocrity,” as general manager Rick Hahn said last week, that’s not something the guy with 439 career home runs is going to consider.
Plus, he actually does already have coaching duties right now.
“I’m the assistant coach on my kid’s seven-year-old team,” Konerko said. “Trying to work toward the head coaching job.”