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Professional

Veteran trusts staff to put him in best spot in lineup

Fifth fine with Konerko

Slugger Paul Konerko is expected to bat fifth behind outfielder Adam Dunn in the White Sox lineup to start the 2013 season.
Slugger Paul Konerko is expected to bat fifth behind outfielder Adam Dunn in the White Sox lineup to start the 2013 season.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Paul Konerko sees one minor perk to dropping to the fifth spot in the White Sox's lineup.

"It just gives me a little more time to put on my shin guard after I get in the dugout after the inning is over," Konerko quipped. "It's pretty similar. The job description is the same."

After batting cleanup for most of his Sox tenure, Konerko sees the benefits of batting fifth for the first time since 2009, when he started there in 62 games.

Konerko described newcomer Jeff Keppinger as "an ideal kind of No. 2 hitter," adding that Alex Rios is "our best option" in the third spot.

"But I think Alex, Adam [Dunn] and myself all have the mindset of whatever lineup is up, we'll be fine," Konerko said. "I don't think anyone is that concerned where everyone hits. We trust the staff. They'll do it right.''

Aside from a sore left knee as the result of fouling a pitch Sunday, Konerko believes he's in a good position to start his 15th season with the Sox. He hasn't thought about his left wrist, which underwent surgery Oct. 4 to remove loose debris that nagged him for several seasons.

His swing appears quick, as evidenced by his five home runs and .339 batting average this spring.

"It's right around this time everybody is trying to get their work in, but still it's kind of that change-of-scenery time," Konerko said. "We've been here awhile, and you can only prepare so much, so everyone is looking forward to Wednesday. But you just make sure we get the little stuff in and get the work in before we go."

Konerko also seems encouraged by the preparation of his teammates in the predominantly right-handed batting order.

"I know people have mentioned the lack of lefties [in the lineup]," Konerko said. "The main thing is for the righties in the lineup to grind at-bats and make pitchers work. I think most of our righties have the mindset of being a good hitter first and power second.

"When you do that, it can make things tough on righties."

Projected lineup

1. Alejandro De Aza, CF

2. Jeff Keppinger, 3B

3. Alex Rios, RF

4. Adam Dunn, DH

5. Paul Konerko, 1B

6. Dayan Viciedo, LF

7. Alexei Ramirez, SS

8. Tyler Flowers, C

9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

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