CHICAGO | Officially, Paul Konerko’s one at-bat and five batter-stint at first base Sunday was limited by a tweaked back incurred the previous night.
Yet the standing ovations for Konerko at the plate, when he was pulled from the field in the second inning and for a dugout curtain call were profound appreciation for the conclusion of his all-time White Sox career if he decides to retire in November.
Manager Robin Ventura had that possibility in mind in handling Konerko so he could bask in the fans’ tributes amidst the Sox’s season-ending 4-1 loss to the Royals.
“I think it was the appropriate thing to do,” Ventura said. “I don’t know if his mind is made up yet. I think knowing that it’s up in the air, it’s best to err on that (retirement) side.”
Mobbed by media afterward, Konerko said he had to take care not to react too emotionally to the fans without a 2014 destination confirmed yet.
“I said it after I came back in 2011; I almost felt guilty, people treated me so well (in 2010 with his previous contract expiring),” he said. “It was such a big deal at the end. I felt when I came back I kind played with people’s emotions.
“It was similar to that (Sunday) where I didn’t want to make a big spectacle out of it. There’s no escaping it kind of at the end. When there is some unknown about what’s going to happen. I didn’t want to be out there tipping my hat every time I moved a muscle and all that kind of stuff.”
Konerko yielded to the cheers with the curtain call and cap tipping after leaving the game.
“I totally love it and the fact they’re behind me,” he said. “I can promise you this, if I do (retire) a year from now, look out, at that point, I might do the lap around the field.”
Konerko said he hopes to meet with Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf near the former’s offseason home in Scottsdale in November to finalize his future.