Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko's Concussion Big Loss in Tight AL Central Race

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IAugust 9, 2012

Paul Konerko could be sidlined for a while following an elbow to the head in Tuesday's game with Kansas City. The team is calling it a mild concussion.
Paul Konerko could be sidlined for a while following an elbow to the head in Tuesday's game with Kansas City. The team is calling it a mild concussion.David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

The Chicago White Sox could be without the services of Paul Konerko for a key stretch of the AL Central race. They also may be in for a repeat of 2011 where their captain suffered a big drop off in performance due to injury.

Last year it was a bone bruise behind his left knee that hampered him in the last two months. Tuesday night, Konerko suffered a more ominous injury.

As a result of an incidental elbow from base-runner Jarrod Dyson in the seventh inning, Konerko sat out Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Royals. Following the game, Robin Ventura announced that Konerko had suffered a mild concussion on the play and would be re-evaluated on Friday.

Ventura explained the decision to bench the captain to Scott Merkin of after the game.

There have been some serious things with concussions. He's got to be evaluated.He does have a mild one, so it was more of a precaution to keep him out. No way could he have played tonight. Just better to keep him out of it.

He didn't sleep very well last night. Coming in today, he didn't look too good.

If Konerko is exhibiting concussion symptoms on Friday, he could be placed on the disabled list for a seven-day stretch. That is per league rules adopted before the 2011 season.

It is not required for teams to use the seven-day DL. However, the White Sox are not a team that plays fast and loose with their players, let alone a franchise stalwart. If Konerko's concussion merits time off, he'll sit.

He would miss this weekend's series with Oakland and be eligible to return to action in the middle of next week. How he may be affected at that point remains to be seen.

Konerko suffered a drop in power and mobility after being hit by a pitch at the end of July last year. It's scary to consider that he could be hindered by his latest injury for the stretch run and beyond.

Justin Morneau has experienced a prolific fall in performance after a collision at second base in July of 2010 resulted in a concussion. Morneau made impact with John McDonald's knee and has been a shell of the MVP-caliber player he was before the injury.

Konerko wasn't hit as hard by Dyson's elbow, which caught him on the side of the head. On the other hand, he also wasn't wearing a helmet like Morneau was.

Morneau missed the rest of the 2010 season. Konerko's condition does not appear to be as serious, but concussions are difficult to predict. Regardless of how he feels Friday, Konerko could miss some time and suffer some longer-term effects.