Harold Baines watches his ninth inning solo home run head for the center field seats during the White Sox’s 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland. Smooth-swinging Baines was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Glidden, File)

Harold Baines’ election to Hall quite the shocker, even to Baines

SHARE Harold Baines’ election to Hall quite the shocker, even to Baines
SHARE Harold Baines’ election to Hall quite the shocker, even to Baines

LAS VEGAS — Harold Baines making the Hall of Fame was a surprise — a shock, even — but former White Sox star Paul Konerko has no beef.

“I’m glad there are these other vehicles to get into the Hall of Fame because he’s just one of those guys,” Konerko said of the Today’s Game Era Committee, which voted Baines into the Hall on Sunday night. “There are a lot of great hitters in the Hall of Fame, but Harold Baines is better than a lot of them.’’

Baines, a six-time All-Star who played 22 seasons for the Sox, Rangers, Athletics, Orioles and Indians, collected 2,866 hits, 384 home runs and 1,628 RBI, excellent career numbers that got him no more than 6 percent backing from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America from 2007 to 2011 — which left him off the ballot after that.

Enter the Today’s Game Era Committee, which, like Konerko, had a much different take on Baines’ accomplishments. While the Sox’ organization celebrated, a “Wait, what?” reaction was the overriding response.

Sports Illustrated’s “Harold Baines’ Stuffing Hall of Fame Election is an Embarrassment” was just one of many negative headlines.

Even Baines said he was “very shocked” at the good news, but maybe he shouldn’t have been, considering Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Tony La Russa, Baines’ former Sox manager, were on the committee as well as Baines’ general manager in Baltimore, Pat Gillick, albeit with only three of 16 votes, to lend support.

“He just deserved it,’’ Reinsdorf said. “There was no arm-twisting.”

Baines was emotional at the news conference Monday, breaking down when talking about his father, who passed away three years ago, not being able to enjoy the honor.

“He was my hero,” Baines said.


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Abreu trade rumors

General manager Rick Hahn downplayed reports of the Dodgers’ and Astros’ interest in first baseman Jose Abreu, who is entering the last year of his contract.

“It’s the nature of the season, the nature of the business, a lot of stuff gets floated out there that is inaccurate,’’ Hahn said. “He knows how we feel about him.’’

Moncada switch?

Yoan Moncada switching from second base to third base is still on the table. Moncada’s skills might be better suited for the corner.

“The athleticism, his reaction time, his quickness and arm strength, it is possible,’’ Hahn said.

Minor addition

The Sox signed middle infielder Ryan Goins to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

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