Paul Konerko readily admits there are times when he misses baseball. He doesn’t miss it enough consider a full-time role yet, but misses it enough to keep his options open.
The former White Sox captain who retired after the 2014 season maintains a busy schedule without being around the game. Besides serving as an assistant coach for his son’s youth baseball team, Konerko fills his days with being a father, playing golf and hockey while also considering some outside business opportunities.
But sometimes, in the midst of being a retired ballplayer who is still adjusting to being home as much as he is, Konerko goes through stages when returning to baseball sounds more appealing than normal.
“There will be nights when I’m sitting there and all hell is breaking loose and I’m like, ‘I’ll really take an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts (night),’” Konerko said before Friday’s White Sox game against the Tigers. “It would be easier.
“In fact, I’ve told people that I’m going to go back and start playing so I can get some freaking rest.”
Konerko played 20 years in the major leagues – including 16 with the Sox. The former first baseman and 2005 ALCS MVP will throw out the first pitch Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field when the Sox begin their annual Crosstown Cup series with the Cubs.
Although he is perfectly content with retirement, Konerko still fields questions from fans about whether he has a future in baseball. But considering what he has watched two of his former managers, Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura, go through in dealing with the daily grind, Konerko said he has no plans to give much thought to returning.
Not as a manager. Not as a bench coach. Not in a role in the front office. Not yet, at least.
“Until my kids (grow up) and until they’re in a position where I’ve done everything I want to do and they’re older and I’ve satisfied things I want to do outside of the game, then I’ll begin to think about stuff like that,” Konerko said.
“I totally respect these coaches – Robin (Ventura) – guys that get back…that’s hard to do because it’s not an easy job. It’s like total commitment.”
It’s one Konerko isn’t ready for.
Konerko spent last year doing all the things he said he never had time for during his playing career. Year two of his retirement has brought a little more routine, which has made it necessary for Konerko to always keep projects in front of him.
This week, Konerko began a two-week charity campaign in which T-shirts that Konerko designed will be sold online (www.athletesbrand.com/paul) to help raise money for The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation. The venture will run until Aug. 1 and will help awareness and funding for families who deal with the disorder, which Konerko’s oldest son dealt with when he was younger.
Konerko did a ballpark event Friday night and will visit suites during Tuesday night’s game against the Cubs to promote the campaign.
Two years removed from the crosstown rivalry, Konerko said he is anticipating being around a Sox-Cubs series without actually participating himself. Despite the opposite directions the two teams appear to be moving in, Konerko expects the four-game series to take on a playoff-like feel regardless of what the calendar or the standings might say.
“Hopefully, it’s like it was when I played,” Konerko said. “Every game was something. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but someone’s going to get hit or someone’s going to take somebody out at second (base). There’s going to be something that makes it it the story of the day.
“I feel the last few years, that’s been missing a little bit.”
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