McKnight: Konerko Undecided On Retirement, For Now
By Connor McKnight
(CBS) — The White Sox have three games left in the regular season, but Paul Konerko has not yet decided if those will be the final three games of his 17-year career.
“One of the things that I did want to do –not knowing how the season would turn out– was that no matter what happened … take a month off (before making a decision),” Konerko said. “That (goal) was there before the season even started. I’m just trying to finish that out and, you know, kind of succeed on one of the things I set out on.”
While Konerko answered questions about his future, his willingness to continue playing baseball and the overall success of his career to date, he was very clear that nothing has been offered to him by the White Sox at this point.
“I haven’t talked to the White Sox formally. We haven’t spoken about anything,” he said. “Under normal circumstances (I) hate to speculate. I just want to make sure everybody knows that. I’m not sitting here knowing what I have in front of me. My mind could be made up for me.”
That’s not to say the White Sox have made up their mind, however. Prior to Konerko’s comments, White Sox GM Rick Hahn stated that he and his people would have a talk with Konerko at some point in the off-season and talk about their options.
Konerko has made one decision, however. If he plays, the 2014 season will be his last.
“Every season I’ve played before this–and when I say ‘every season,’ I mean since I was, like, seven–I knew I’d play the next year,” Konerko said. “One thing I can give you of any substance today would be that if I do play next year that will probably be it.”
If Konerko has written only a rough draft of when he thinks his playing days will end, he’s gotten much further regarding where he hopes it will end: In Chicago. As a member of the White Sox.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt of that,” Konerko said. “Again, I don’t know the options that are going to be made available to me, but that’s always been my goal.”
Even prior to the start of the 2013 season, before the White Sox struggled out of the gate and before the balloon of potential of a team that had held first place in the AL Central until the final two weeks of the 2012 season had been popped, there were questions about whether this would be Konerko’s last year in baseball. Playing in the final season of a three-year, $37.5 million-dollar contract at age 37, those questions were warranted.
Interestingly, Konerko said this year might have been different had he made a call before this year began.
“I don’t know if I was sure enough in spring training, or before, to one way or the other,” Konerko said. “Maybe I should have figured things out more to say, ‘Listen, I plan on definitely playing beyond this year,’ or ‘This is it.’ It probably would have been a better year for me personally.”
Konerko has acknowledged earlier in the year that the season he’s having (.248/.316/.361, 12 HR, 123 GP) isn’t the type of performance he expected. He admitted that while he takes stock over the next month, his value to the White Sox may change from starting first baseman to platoon-guy or even part-timer. While he seems ready to digest that at some level, he said he’d only accept a lesser role with Chicago.
Follow Connor McKnight on Twitter (@McKnight670).