For the second consecutive season, Konerko underwent a procedure on his left wrist to deal with bone fragments that made swinging the bat impossible.
When he underwent the procedure and missed a few games against the Toronto Blue Jays, we were told that after some rest, Konerko would be good as new.
To a man in the White Sox organization, the situation was down-played, and they assured us that it was no big deal. Most Sox fans, and rightfully so, believed them.
Jon Fromi, Bleacher Report’s featured columnist for the White Sox, wrote on June 7 that Konerko came back from a wrist procedure last June and picked up where he left off. Konerko, Fromi wrote, hit “.350 with nine home runs over the rest of that month.”
Based on past experience, there was no reason for Fromi to doubt that the team captain would return as strong as he was prior to the procedure and that his wrist was not a cause for alarm.
That is not the case this season. It is a big deal.
In the last 20 games, Konerko is hitting a pedestrian .215. Worse yet, he has only had two extra-base hits and four RBI’s in 79 at-bats, and enters the four game series with the Boston Red Sox mired in a 2-13 slump.
The bottom line is that Konerko’s lack of production is flat out hurting the Sox.
Saturday against the Kansas City Royals, Konerko grounded out in the seventh inning with Gordon Beckham on second in a game the Sox eventually lost 6-3.
In the fifth inning of Sunday’s game, he weakly grounded out to Alcides Escobar with two outs and runners on first and second.
It also appears that his physical frustration is affecting him mentally. Known for being hard on himself to begin with, Konerko has taken to shrugging his shoulders after a swing or looking back to the dugout every time he hits a lazy fly to center. The body language is screaming that Konerko is struggling and needs a break.
The White Sox have options that do not require a stint on the DL.
They can give him a an extended rest using Jordan Danks in left while using Dayan Viciedo as a DH, for example, or put Kevin Youkilis and/or Adam Dunn at first and implement the old DH-by-committee approach until Konerko heals.
If a DL trip is needed, the Sox have left-handed hitting first baseman Dan Johnson in Charlotte who is on a tear and has been in a pennant race before. This move may be unlikely, however, as the Sox may wait until September to bring him up or include him in a trade.
While the Sox won’t say it, Konerko is playing with and not through pain, and it is beginning to become a concern. Management needs to address the situation and give Paulie a rest before he gets too deep into his head.