CHICAGO – Two home runs shy of tying Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. on the all-time list, White Sox slugger Paul Konerko knows there’s plenty of work ahead as the White Sox try to avoid a miserable season.
“As long as we’re playing the game, you’ve got to keep your pride because it’s that next at-bat, next game, next play,” said Konerko, who has 429 home runs. “That’s what you’re thinking about as a player. I’ve never thought about the milestone. Any category you pick out, you’ll always find somebody who has done more or done better.
“The only pride I take is that to get to those, just the longevity of being out there and preparing and wanting to be out there that long, as well as wanting to prepare and the luck of not getting hurt. I’m proud of those things.”
In 2007, Jim Thome hit his 500th home run, Mark Buehrle pitched a no-hitter and Bobby Jenks retired 41 consecutive batters.
But the Sox still lost 90 games, and major changes occurred instead of relishing those accomplishments.
That’s why Konerko would prefer to concentrate on the present while marveling at the all-around achievements of Ripken, a 19-time All-Star who holds the major league record of 2,632 consecutive games played.
“Anytime you’re mentioned in any category with a guy like that, it’s cool, I suppose,” Konerko said. “But I’m also smart enough to know that Cal Ripken did so much more, not only for a team on-field and physically playing the game, but you’re talking about a shortstop having that many home runs. That’s a whole different ball of wax.
“If I pass him, that’s a cool footnote. He’s the man.”