White Sox veteran Paul Konerko has hit 434 home runs in his 17-year career, and he still considers the feat “the best feeling in sports, probably.”
Whether he retires after this season or not, Konerko’s days of experiencing that rush are numbered, so he reflected on the joy of knocking a solo home run to left field Thursday night in a 3-2 loss to the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
“You always feel great about it,” Konerko said. “Every player, whether you hit a lot of home runs or [few] home runs, it’s like the best feeling.
“I attacked that one the right way to put it in the air and get it going. I just haven’t done that a lot this year.”
Konerko, whose contract with the Sox expires after this season, has not revealed whether the series against the Royals this week will be the last of his career. He said during a group media session Friday that he’ll wait to make his decision until the offseason.
The Sox captain was back in the lineup Thursday after he missed Wednesday’s loss to the Indians with a bruised right knee, suffered when he fouled a pitch off his kneecap.
In his first at-bat in the second inning, he sent a 1-1 pitch from Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie 415 feet for his 12th home run of the season.
“He probably plans on hitting one every day the rest of the way,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You don’t know [if it’s his last]. But I think any time players kind of go through this situation, I’m sure there are some weird thoughts of the last time for anything.”
The Sox failed to hold on to the early lead and dropped to 62-97. They must win one of their final three games against the Royals to avoid becoming the fourth team in club history to reach 100 losses.
“You don’t want to lose 100,” Konerko said. “You don’t want to put that on the team next year. Whoever is here is going to have to answer questions about this season and just have it in the back of their minds.
“I promise you if we don’t lose the next three, we know what it feels like to lose 100. I don’t think we need to confirm it. … It’s just not something you want on your résumé.”