KANSAS CITY – The White Sox are getting the band together for their postseason run.
Paul Konerko returned from the disabled list and hit a home run in his second at-bat in the fourth inning on Friday night as the Sox opened a three-game series against the Royals in Konerko’s first game since suffering a concussion on Aug. 7.
Opening Day closer Hector Santiago rejoined the team after making three starts for AAA Charlotte. Off the 25-man roster are utility man Orlando Hudson (left foot contusion) and left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo (left biceps inflammation). Both went on the disabled list with injuries that may be more convenient than severe, as the Sox avoided losing Septimo on waivers.
Hudson, who fouled a pitch off his toe on Wednesday and was in serious pain at the time, was improved Thursday. His contributions have been limited and he’s been something of a forgotten man since Kevin Youkilis arrived. Hudson is batting .182 with one home run and 11 RBI over 36 games.
Septimo was 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA over 12 appearances in his first major league stint.
Santiago (four saves), who surrendered the closer’s to another rookie, Addison Reed, was 1-0 with no runs allowed over three starts (14.2 innings) with Charlotte.
The best news for the Sox, though, was Konerko’s return. He is batting fourth and will be the designated hitter Friday and at least with Adam Dunn continuing to play first base.
“There were no problems,” Konerko said of the tests taken for clearance to play. “A lot of people say you’ll know right away because once you start doing it you feel sick or you feel real out of sorts once you start doing that and I didn’t have much of that. They felt it was OK and cleared me to go.”
The Royals’ Jarrod Dyson made contact with Konerko’s head near the right temple area, while running out a ground ball. Konerko called it a clean play.
“When he first hit me, the main thing with this one is, it goes to show you if you know impact is coming, everybody in here has been hit, I’ve been hit a handful of times in the face with a pitch, but on all those occasions I knew it was coming. I had a chance to brace,” Konerko said. “This one I thought I had about another half-second or second before the runner would be up on me and as soon as I was thinking that is when I got hit. I had no time to brace.”
Konerko said he turned a corner on Sunday. Friday is the first day he’s eligible to return.
“Sunday was the break where I felt like this was more like myself,” he said. “I still had some symptoms where my head was sore, my eyes still felt strained. That was another thing: as I moved my eyes back and forth it hurt to move them back. But I felt like more motivated and part of the world.
“The first three days after, it’s a very depressing. Now I have kind of a look and having had one of these, those guys that have been out for months and miss a whole bunch of time, I have a new respect for those guys if that’s what they were feeling for that long of a time. It’s a very peculiar feeling. It’s very depressing. You feel not yourself. You almost feel, you don’t care about anything. You’re so depressed and unmotivated to do anything. You have no energy, no anything. I felt Sunday was the first day where I felt like I had more spring in my step.”