At age 37, Paul Konerko is in danger of not hitting at least 18 home runs for the first time in his 15-year career with the White Sox. He has told the local media more than once that he likely will wait until he unwinds from the season — probably around November — to decide if he will end his playing career.
He has been a thorn in the Twins’ side for years. Konerko entered Monday batting .283 against the Twins in his career, with 50 home runs and 133 RBI. The home runs are the most he’s hit against any opponent and the Twins remember many of them.
“He’s that guy who, over the years, has always come up in big situations and more times than not, he finds a way to kill you,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s been a lot of fun to watch. He has always been one of those kind of hitters to put the ball in the seats with a flip of the wrists. A very competitive guy and basically he’s led the team for quite a few years.”
Konerko contributed to Chicago’s seven-run first inning Monday with an RBI single off Twins starter Liam Hendriks.
A longtime fan favorite, Konerko has an excellent reputation as a teammate and leader, and likely would have value on another team even as a role player. If he leaves the White Sox after this season, he would be a free agent and it would depend on if he wants to play and consider wearing another uniform.
And it’s always about production. Konerko entered Monday batting only .247 with 11 homers and 51 RBI.
“He’s gotten me a few times and I’ve gotten him a few times,” said closer Glen Perkins, who actually has held Konerko to a .250 average and one home run through the years. “He’s one of those guys you like playing against and, if you get a chance, a guy you’d like to play with, based on that everything I’ve heard about him is positive.”
The Twins might need to bring in a first baseman during the offseason, but there have been no indications Konerko will be a target.
Catcher Joe Mauer told the Twins training staff Monday that he felt fine, but the decision was made to give him a day off. Mauer didn’t even report to Target Field.
“He said he didn’t have any problems,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “He didn’t have any headaches. So that’s encouraging.”
Mauer, dealing with postconcussion symptoms, worked out for three consecutive days after suffering a setback Wednesday and taking Thursday off. Ryan expects Mauer to work out at the ballpark Tuesday. The goal is to get Mauer into a game before the season ends.
Gardenhire has looked into giving Brian Dozier a day off for the past couple of weeks. But Dozier has remained in the lineup.
Not Monday, as Dozier wasn’t in the starting lineup for the first time since July 31 — a span of 44 games. Gardenhire was asked if it was hard to sit Dozier down.
“It was easy,” he said. “Just pencil-whipped him on the computer.
“He was dragging a little bit. We are playing these teams and you want him in there. We’ll give him a day [off] and we’ll see where we go.”
Dozier has jokingly told Gardenhire for two weeks not to bench him, but could no longer hold him off.
“He thought [Monday] was a good day,” Dozier said. “Especially with two weeks left in the season.”