In less than two months, Paul Konerko went from challenging the .400 mark to a slump that had many pundits questioning whether White Sox manager Robin Ventura should drop him in the batting order.
On May 27, Konerko's average hit a high-water mark of .399. After an 0-for-3 night at the plate in Boston on July 26, he was at .318 -- still strong, just not Ted Williams-esque.
But he's been on fire ever since.
"On the road trip I was feeling better as we went. The last couple of days in Detroit I was feeling better," Konerko said. "But sometimes you get good pitches to hit. Even when youre feeling good sometimes it doesnt line up with what theyre doing, even though youre doing things right. A little bit of that and just trying to get better."
Over his last eight games, Konerko is 15-for-28 and his average has jumped 18 points to .336. Monday, Konerko talked about winning the fight over the last two months of the season. Round 1 is leaning in his favor.
"Like typical Paulie, he worked harder," White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto said. "That's what he's been doing for his whole career is work hard, and the feeling clicked back in, and this is the results of it.
"He started taking more reps in the cage more than anything else. When you're not feeling right, some people search for mechanics and obviously Paul is one of the smarter ones in the game. He was searching for a feel and now he's got the feel back and he's more confident."
A younger Konerko might have been too hard on himself during the slump and struggled to come out of it. But, in his 16th season, Konerko has a different mindset when he goes through difficult times at the plate.
"The season has a lot of peaks and valleys with how you feel out there, and sometimes you think you're feeling really good but for that three or four game stretch it doesn't line up with what you're getting," Konerko explained. "I'm still working, still grinding, just trying to play the game and play through the situation in front of me."
After scoring just 13 runs over the last six games of their 10-game road trip, the White Sox have scored 18 in two games against the Twins. Is it merely a coincidence that Konerko is once again swinging a hot bat to the tune of 7 for his last 8 with two home runs and four RBIs? Not according to the guys surrounding him in the batting order.
"He's such a big part of the lineup. He's so important to have doing well," Alex Rios admitted. "He's been pretty consistent all year and that's been a key for us being in the position we are right now."
Perhaps Adam Dunn, who homered and drove in four runs ahead of Konerko Tuesday, summed it up best: "We're not going to go anywhere without Paul doing what what he does. People think Paul is struggling, everybody's all over him for reasons I don't know why, but he's still hitting .330."
The captain's bat leads the way. For the White Sox, that's right back into a tie for first place.