Konerko, Sox hope to exceed expectations

Chicago White Sox veteran slugger Paul Konerko has seen some disappointing years since his club's World Series championship in 2005, and he's hoping to provide the fans with a better product this season.

Most of the White Sox players will use the low expectations on the 2012 team as motivation for when spring training starts later this month.

However, veteran Paul Konerko seemed to be the only player that cared more about the reality of the situation, and the fact that the White Sox have digressed since winning the 2005 World Series, especially in the eyes of their fan base.

"I would say it won't matter (what we tell them) until July or into August," Konerko said, when asked if there was anything to even say to White Sox fans at this point. "We've kind of just given back ... you get what you earn and we haven't earned anything with our fans over the last couple of years.

"Truth be told, there was that little glimmer at the end of '08, where we got hot, the Twins got kind of cold, and the next thing you know we find ourselves in the playoffs. But the honest truth is, since '05 we've kind of slowly but surely just kind of given back everything we earned steadily. We're kind of at this spot now where it's like, 'Here we are, back at square one again.'"

Konerko hopes it doesn't stay there, however. The hope is that Adam Dunn and Alex Rios bounce back from dismal 2011 seasons, while Jake Peavy is able to stay healthy and help a pitching staff that has a chance to be one of the better ones in the AL Central.

But Konerko wasn't running from the fact that with Detroit signing Prince Fielder, they are the team to beat in the division.

"It's our job to go out and put that in play, earn it back slowly," Konerko continued. "There's no reason we should have ... I mean we hope people come out to watch the game, it's always nice to go out and enjoy a game, but most of the fans and everyone within reason, there can be some that are totally irrational. We've earned (their disappointment).

"Sometimes you have to look in the mirror as a unit or a group and say, 'Hey man, we haven't been doing what we should have been doing,' and now it's about trying to get it back piece by piece."

If the White Sox do fall out of it and decide that they wanted to move more veteran pieces for youth, Konerko said that he would waive the no-trade if it were a good situation for himself, as well as the team.

Konerko is signed through 2013, and he also didn't rule out that he could see himself walking away from the game after his contract is up.

White Sox Notes & Quotes

  • 1B Paul Konerko admitted that it was time for a change in managers, with Ozzie Guillen now down in Miami and Robin Ventura the new face of the White Sox, but that doesn't mean that Konerko didn't enjoy every minute of life under Guillen.

    "It was time for a change," Konerko said. "That had run its course. Ozzie was a success, and if you told everyone when he was hired in 2004 that there would be some crazy, totally wild stuff and some fights with some guys but one year we'd win the World Series, everybody would have taken it. It's been a success, but it also ran its course, with Ozzie and the organization. It was time to move on, and he's going be happy where he's at (in Miami)."

  • DH/1B Adam Dunn showed up to the annual fan fest for the White Sox not only looking like he dropped some weight this offseason, but also doing his best to turn the page on one of the worst seasons for a big-league hitter in years.

    Dunn batted .159 with 177 strikeouts in his first season with the White Sox and was criticized for showing up to spring camp out of shape last winter. Dunn did say he worked out much harder this offseason, but he wouldn't go into details.

    "We're doing some good things," Dunn said. He also is looking for big things from himself and Alex Rios. "We made two pretty good moves," Dunn said. "That was hopefully getting me and Alex back. That's the way I'm looking at it. We pretty much have the same team. We lost a couple of key players (Mark Buehrle, Carlos Quentin, Sergio Santos). We have guys capable of stepping in and filling that role and do a little better. That's what we're expecting."

  • RHP Nestor Molina, who was acquired from the Blue Jays in the Sergio Santos trade, is considered a top prospect for the White Sox as they enter camp. General manager Ken Williams took it a step further, saying that not only is Molina going to get a serious look in spring camp, but, "This young man we think is a top-of-the-rotation type guy," and could be up by midseason. The White Sox like bringing their younger pitchers up through the bullpen, and then giving them starting innings, so Molina could see middle-inning work first.

  • General manager Ken Williams admitted that he had no money to spend this offseason and going into the 2012 season, but said with contracts coming off the table after this season and the 2013 season, the team will get back to being aggressive in free agency.

    "At some point, we are going to have to get back to what has been our (offseason) norm over the last number of years, which is the aggressiveness," Williams said. "But this offseason, we weren't in that position." Williams also admitted he wasn't thrilled to hear about the Tigers getting Prince Fielder. "What do you want me to say?" Williams said. "I'm happy? I'm happy Prince ended up (in Detroit)? That's the last place I thought he'd end up. I still don't know how it happened."

  • Pitching coach Don Cooper would not go into details on how LHP Chris Sale will be brought along as a starter this season, after he was in the bullpen the last two seasons for the White Sox, but he wasn't concerned with the transition.

    "Listen, we're not going to handcuff this kid," Cooper said. "We're going to give this kid just enough work experience, let him go. And as the season's going, and I don't mean in the first half, as the season goes, we'll continue to assess where he's at."

    The biggest concern with Sale is the amount of innings he can throw. "It's uncertain because he hasn't done the role," Cooper said. "But he has pitched as a starter his whole career."

  • By the Numbers: 111 2/3 – The most innings RHP Jake Peavy has thrown for the White Sox in a season since coming over in a 2009 trade. From 2005-07, Peavy pitched at least 200 innings for the Padres each year.

  • Quote to Note: "Here's the deal. They didn't add to a team that already had (Victor) Martinez on it, too; they replaced Martinez with (Prince) Fielder. Who knows how that will turn out, because it's replacing one great player for another, and they're different." -- General manager Ken Williams, on all the hype surrounding the Prince Fielder signing to the rival Detroit Tigers.

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