White Sox miss injured Konerko
CHICAGO – White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko averaged 150 games a season over the past three years.
Konerko’s ability to stay in the lineup is especially impressive considering he dealt with a loose bone fragment in his left wrist. However, a 25-minute procedure conducted Tuesday to flush the fragment knocked out Konerko the past two games, including Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Toronto.
The Sox surely missed Konerko’s bat against the Blue Jays. They managed only two hits – both singles by A.J. Pierzynski – against starter Brandon Morrow (7-3) in his third complete game of the season. Rookie Jose Quintana (1-1) impressed in his third start of the season, allowing two runs in six innings for the Sox (31-25).
The situation with his left wrist isn’t a new ordeal for Konerko. He missed two games almost exactly a year ago after the same procedure. The bone fragment first bothered Konerko during the 2008 season, and he became increasingly aware of it beginning in 2009. Konerko, who said his wrist is still sore after getting prodded with needles, hopes to return to the field today.
“I worked on it since about 10 a.m. on the off day Monday and all the way through [Tuesday’s batting practice] and I had to make a call at that point because I just couldn’t swing the bat even close to normal,” Konerko said. “It’s kind of a weird thing because it’s a small little thing that’s not a big deal. But when it gets into that joint, I can’t swing a bat. That makes it a little tough.”
Konerko is fairly certain he will undergo surgery once the season ends to finally remove the floating fragment. The 36-year-old declined to have the surgery after last season because Konerko and the Sox’s training staff believed they had flushed the fragment to an area that wouldn’t bother him. Typically when the fragment becomes locked in a joint within his wrist Konerko is able to massage or manipulate it from its position.
“I don’t know how it happened,” Konerko said. “A lot of guys have this in their elbow from wear and tear, it’s a little small thing, but when it gets in that joint it kind of cripples me, and so we’re going to [take care of it] when the season is over, and that will be the end of that saga.”
Konerko’s absence thrust backup catcher Tyler Flowers into the starting spot Wednesday for his first big league start at first base. Flowers played 92 minor league games at first, though none since 2008 with High-A Myrtle Beach.
Sox manager Robin Ventura gave Flowers a vote of confidence, while Flowers said he felt “ready and capable” to play first base. Flowers went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and did not commit an error in the Sox’s loss.
“I’ve been taking ground balls all year preparing for this to happen,” Flowers said. “I didn’t really think it was going to happen, but here it is.”
Flowers has been prepared for the opportunity. He purchased a first baseman’s glove right after last season ended before Ventura asked a few players get one this spring. A catcher’s mentality should help at the position, Flowers said, especially when knocking down a tough grounder.
“The last thing you want to worry about is playing first base for the first time and then using someone else’s glove and all that other stuff,” Flowers said. “I’m very comfortable with my glove.”