Paul Konerko Talks to the Media About His Future
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Q: What clicks in your mind when you know it’s the right fit?
“I think you just try to make the best decision at that moment. Five years ago, it was to come back here. Where it’ll be this time around, I don’t know. We’ll have to find out as we go. There’s just so many different little factors to it.”
Q: A sense of how much the White Sox want you back or how much you want to be back here?
“Hopefully, I’m in their conversation as far as being brought back. Until then, nothing is probably going to happen. I have no sense of the market or anything like that. I don’t have any illusions about anything. I just want to take it as it comes. It’s about just going out and having a good year because that’s what you should do. Now, whatever comes my way, comes my way. I’ll handle it. When you start to get into a situation where you’re expecting this or I should get this because that guy got this, that’s when you get let down and get disappointed and get into a place you shouldn’t go to. I really don’t have any of that. All I want to do is do what’s right and at this moment, I honestly don’t know what that is. I don’t know what I want. I’ve played this whole season with blinders on and tried to just do my job the right way and didn’t give too much thought. I knew it’d work itself out.”
“Now getting to the end here, going into the offseason, it’s more nervous that way because now that’s going to be out of my hands and you just kind of have to go wherever this thing takes me.”
Q: Have you thought about how much longer you want to do this?
“Obviously it helps when you see yourself doing well on the field, and this year I felt like some of the adjustments that I’ve made over the last year or two mentally to approach this game has made it easier for me to get through. It never gets easier. Your body is always on a slow decline but you try to just maintain and stop the clock the best you can. Mentally, I think I have a good system going on now to get ready for each day. These seasons take a lot out of you, every year, even the good ones, they bring you down. They are tough. I feel like I have more in the tank, not because of the physical side of it but because of the mental side. I feel like I can crunch things better and get through a little better than I used to.”
Q: Emotional side separate from the business side?
“Of course there always is, but the way I look at it, coming into the league from the minors, was to come in and play in a place for 10 years straight at one position. That was the only goal I ever had because I knew that if I did that, all of the other stuff would come. I feel lucky and fortunate. I want to be here. I’d have felt a lot emptier had it not worked out here the previous time. I’m a White Sox no matter if I go play somewhere else. That’s why I’ll be thought of, that’s what I’ll think of in my career. I feel good about the fact that I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish coming into the big leagues.”
Q: Your presence in the clubhouse as a mentor and role model …
“I think I enjoy it more because I have a better idea on how it’s done. A few years before, I think I may have looked at it like that, but I’m not sure I was quite earning it the right way. I felt a little bit like it was contradicting. If I couldn’t handle myself the right way, how I was going to tell anybody else? Now I feel like I can say something to Beckham or Carlos. I just want to be one of the guys like everybody else in there, but I wouldn’t shy away from it, I don’t shy away from it and I know a winning team has to have a couple of those guys. If you stay 10-12 years in one spot, you’re that guy whether you want it or not because that’s the way it is in this game.”
Q: Ever want to manage?
“Never say never, but no. I feel like this game can only get one good chase from me and that’s it. That’s why I respect these guys because they come back and coach and manage.”
Q: Hometown discount to stay in Chicago?
“I don’t know. I’ve got a family to think about and how I fit it on the team and all the things that go into that. So it’s not just all about that I’ve made a lot of money in this game. There’s so many little parts that were there last time and now there are even more this time. You’ve now got kids that are walking around, there’s just so much more to it than to say I’ll take a discount. I’d never just say that. It could be a better deal than everybody else’s and I decide to go somewhere else just because of what I’m feeling for myself and everybody involved at that moment. That’s just the honest truth.”
Q: How important is the clubhouse culture?
“It helps that all of the guys in there I respect, and I like, this is a great group of guys. That always helps. Believe me, when you sit down with a piece of paper and you do the pros and cons of playing here in Chicago, there’s a lot of pros and they outweigh the cons.”
Q: Playing for Ozzie …
“It’s good. That is stuff that when you win a World Series with people, no matter how rocky it may get after that or how much you don’t win after that, you always kind of have that special place for those guys who you were with along that journey. When it comes to who runs the team and all of that, the people upstairs are going to make all those calls and again, those are pieces of information when it gets to be November or December and all of the stuff starts coming in and you have to start making decisions, of course it matters who the players are, who the manager is, who is the hitting coach.”
Q: How does geography play a role?
“Again, all pieces of the puzzle. The older you get, you start taking heat just for being older. You kind of get a little chip on your shoulder with that type of stuff. Obviously, you want all of the pieces to be together. You want this, you want that but you have to be a little more flexible as you get older because sometimes there may not be as many teams who want you because of that reason, so you might have to be willing to play somewhere you never thought of playing. Over the last year, year and a half, I’ve conditioned myself and conditioned my family that that may be the case so prepare and I think I am. I think I’m prepared for nearly everything. I think I did a good job last offseason coming in with the process going down and the way I was going to do it. I haven’t wavered off of that now.”
Q: DH or first base?
“I’m not opposed to DHing. I think I can play first. I think I had a good year at first. I think the first half, I had one of my best years at first. Honestly, the last couple of weeks, they keep stacking these left-handers to try and get me, but ultimately I want to play first because that’s what I know. I’m probably more open to it now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to play first.”