The Future is Now: Erik Johnson Bids For Third Victory
Saturday, September 28, 2013
White Sox vs. Royals at U.S. Cellular Field (6:10 p.m., CT, CSN). Starters: RHP Erik Johnson (2-2, 2.82) for the Sox, RHP Yordano Ventura (0-0, 1.59) for K.C. Johnson owns a 2.82 ERA with 14 strikeouts over his first four career starts (three quality starts).
Sox Starting Lineup: L. Garcia, CF; Beckham, 2B; Gillaspie, 3B; Konerko, 1B; Dunn, DH; A. Garcia, RF; Semien, SS; Jor. Danks, LF; Gonzalez, C.
Paulie on Paulie
From yesterday’s session with the media:
On the impending processing of deciding his baseball future…
“One of the things I wanted to do coming into this season, regardless of the result, was that no matter what happened, I wanted to go home and take maybe a month to get away from baseball. That was my plan coming into this season which I decided on – along with the help of talking to other players, athletes and friends who have faced a similar decision.
“However, my decision is based on the premise that there is a choice given to me by the organization and they want me to come back. Right now, I don’t know that. I haven’t spoken to the White Sox formally about the decision, but this is all set to the backdrop of them wanting me to come back. Ultimately my mind could be made up for me because right now I don’t know what my choices or options are from their end.”
On his physical and mental state affecting his decision…
“Right now, the physical end is probably a bigger factor. Mentally, I think you can always rebound. This isn’t the first rough season I’ve had. But, the older you get it’s easier to let things go quicker. You do get beat up a little more mentally each year, but ultimately you get better at handling it. But, physically you just have to know your body. When you talk about the offseason and Spring Training, those are big commitments that you have to want to do. The season doesn’t start on April 1. For me, it starts mid-November. So, you have to know that you’re willing to go through that. It’s a long year and you have to know if you’re up for it physically.
“You can never totally know with certain injuries. There are some things that are isolated and once you get past it, you know that will never bother you again. But, other things you just know that’s never going away and it may hang around as a nagging injury. Again, that’s something over the next month or so todetermine. It’s not just games, but it can take a toll traveling, during Spring Training, the offseason and all of those things.”
On finishing his career with the White Sox…
“That’s always been my goal. Again, I don’t know the options that will be made available to me. But, when I signed back here in ’05 I felt like that could be it, and after 2010 it has brought us to this point now. That’s always what I have envisioned, finishing my career with the White Sox.”
On how the decision has weighed on him throughout the year…
“Every season, since I was seven years old, I’ve know I would continue to play the next year. If I do play next year however, that would probably be my final year. There are just so many factors, like traveling to different cities and then thinking ‘Am I going to see this person again or ever be back here?’ Looking back, I didn’t like going through that and not knowing the answer. I wasn’t sure enough coming out of Spring Training to decide one way or the other if this would be my final season. If I had made that decision, I probably would have had a better year personally for me either way the decision went. However, that doesn’t excuse the season we have had as a team. There’s just so much that is in your control as well as out of your control.”
On how the results of 2013 will factor into his decision…
“That’s a huge determining factor, it may be the biggest. You only go through this sort of thing once, so you seek the advice of other people who have been through it. It would be nice to go out on top with a winner or having your best season, but looking at the other side of it, this is how careers are supposed to end. Not everybody gets to do it exactly how they want. When things aren’t at their best, that is what closes you out, when you’ve decided you’ve had enough if things aren’t going the way you want them to. I can see it both ways. You’re always taught to fight throughout your career to overcome the bumps in the road, no matter what happens, you get up and fight again. It’s a matter of whether or not I’m in the mode of wanting to get up and fight.
“I just think taking a month off and away from the game will help. The more you don’t play, I think the needle will always move towards wanting to play. I just have to determine how much of that feeling is real come November.”
On the possibility returning to play as a part-time player…
“The only place I could do that is in Chicago. My family likes it here, my kids love it here and it’s a great place to be in the summer. I’ve always held myself to a high standard, production-wise. If I do come back in any capacity, I may have to lessen those standards somewhat. Production can be done in a variety of ways, it’s not just hitting home runs and driving in runs. If I’m going to come back, I have to be better working with the young guys and helping them out, instead of being so consumed with myself and following my own routine.
“Again, that role has to exist for me here though. I don’t know what the roster will look like yet, that will be determined by Rick and the front office. I’m very conscious of earning my way onto the playing field, and not having to have a favor done for me. Since I was a little kid, I feel like I’ve earned my way, and right now, I’m not sure I can say that for next year. That’s a concern for me. I don’t want to put anybody in a tough spot. I want to be back here because it makes sense for me and the White Sox, because this organization has always been honest with me and treated me well. I’m not looking to power play somebody into a job, because that’s not who I am.”
On the possibility of Sunday being his final game…
“It’s crossed my mind. But regardless of knowing whether or not it will be my last game going into it, I’m going to go about it the same way as every game. I’m still going to come in, hit off the tee, take batting practice, get ready and go play. I don’t know how else I would go about it or how much more I would do. I don’t get too caught up in those sorts of things. I could play Sunday and look back a month from now and find out that was my last game. That’s possible, but I don’t know what other way to go about it right now.”
On the possibility of playing for another team next season…
“I’d have to weigh my options if I decided I wanted to play again but the opportunity of playing for the White Sox wasn’t there. It would be tough to go somewhere else to play for just one year. It would come down to how much I really just want to still play the game of baseball. There are a lot of factors that will go into it. But, right now I don’t know what options will be presented to me.”
On his future in baseball after retiring as a player…
“Right now, I can’t see myself doing anything in the game. It would be a while. Because of the age my kids are, I wouldn’t want to miss something with them that I couldn’t do because I took a job in baseball. I have some other interests and things I could do from or around home to keep me busy for a while.”
Fan Appreciation Day
Tomorrow is Fan Appreciation Day at U.S. Cellular Field. In addition to Family Sunday events, select players plus Sox coach Harold Baines and Ron KIttle, both stars on the 1983 “Winning Ugly” White Sox, will sign autographs for kids before the game. Additionally, 1,300 prizes will be given away and youngsters can run the bases post-game.
Play(s) of the Day
Gordon Beckham hit a solo homer, his fifth of the season, and Alexei Ramirez tripled and singled in last night’s loss to the Royals.
Quote(s) of the Day
GM Rick Hahn announcing yesterday that Robin will be back as Sox skipper in 2014:
“Robin has met the challenge this team has put in front of him over the last two years, both the good and the bad, extremely well.’’
Ventura on returning next year:
“I am motivated to be back and happy to come back and turn this around.”
White Sox vs. Royals at U.S. Cellular Field (1:05 p.m., CT, WGN) in the final game of the four-game series and last game of the 2013 season. Starters: LHP Jose Quintana (9-6, 3.45) for the Sox, LHP Bruce Chen (8-4, 3.31) for Kansas City.
Did You Know…
…that Dayan Viciedo is hitting .333 with seven doubles, four homers, 19 RBI and 16 runs scored over his last 29 games?
Photo of the Day
Gordon puts in on the board.