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Red-hot Konerko not concerned with recognition

Red-hot Konerko not concerned with recognition

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Red-hot Konerko not concerned with recognition
CHICAGO -- If White Sox followers are looking for someone to talk about Paul Konerko's remarkable 2011 start, someone to extol his virtues as a player or even as the consummate leader, don't look for Konerko himself to be that person.

Take Wednesday's pregame session with the media, as an example.

Konerko was asked how he felt about hearing his name mentioned as an American League Most Valuable Player candidate following these tremendous three months. But the White Sox captain didn't come close to taking the bait.

"I'm not even answering questions about that stuff," said Konerko, in a polite but direct response. "I don't mean to not answer your question. But that shouldn't be in anybody's interview in June, I don't think, regardless of what anyone is doing. That's how I feel about it.

"Some of the questions ... you have to just say you are not going to answer some of them, whether they pertain to you that day or whatever it might be that game. Not to use that as an example, but I mean the MVP decision will come out in November or December, and we are talking about it in June. That makes no sense to me -- at any level.

"It won't be me," Konerko said. "It will be somebody else, but even if that person is talking about it, it's like I don't have enough energy to talk about that kind of stuff. Just using that as an example as far as trying to deal with what's going to help us today and help me and the team play well. That's how my mind works right now."

One reporter joked how the next logical follow-up to the MVP question would have been to ask how Konerko felt about being in American League Triple Crown consideration. Konerko once again would have declined, but facts are facts -- even on June 22, with three months left to play in the season.

Entering Wednesday's series finale against the Cubs, Konerko ranked second in the AL with his .331 average. He was tied with Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista for the home run lead at 21 and stood second with his 59 RBIs. Of course, Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is right there, too, leading the AL in average (.359) and RBIs (69) and sitting tied for eighth with 15 homers.

This 2011 effort for Konerko also includes going deep in five straight games, matching a franchise record. If Konerko won't talk about his personal exploits, then others who know him certainly will pick up the slack.

"I told him that if I ever faced him, the only fastball in he's going to get will be at his hip," said White Sox closer Sergio Santos. "I've seen him hit too many out."

"[Konerko] worked a lot to be who he is," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "A lot of working. A lot of different hitting stances. Paulie changes his stance every other game and still hits. Right now he's in a groove and seeing the ball very well. When he does that, he can make a lot of difference. With Paulie I don't see a lot of change. He's just hitting the ball very well."

Hitting coach Greg Walker has referred to Konerko's 2010 season, where he hit .312 with 39 homers and 111 RBIs, as the best performance of his illustrious career. Konerko, who is hitting .446 with 22 RBIs over his last 20 games, looks on pace for even better numbers than that All-Star effort.

He'll talk about the past two years and the changes in his offensive game, although he seems to like making the comparison about as much as the MVP talk. Reveling in big statistics just is not the Konerko way.

"I don't know why everyone has to compare something as better or worse," Konerko said. "My work, the routine of showing up every day and navigating yourself through the day and prepare to play, was good last year. So far, so good this year.

"Really, it's never-ending. It ends at the end of the season, but it really never ends until you are done playing. You try to fight the fight the right way. I feel like I've been doing that, not just last year, but maybe since halfway or so through the '08 season. I feel like the results weren't always there, but I was going about it right.

"That doesn't always mean you get the results," Konerko said. "It's nice when the results come with it. But I think how you show up to play that day is important. That should be the reward, not the results of hitting a home run or driving in a run."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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