Konerko could return next week

Konerko could return next week

CHICAGO -- Injured first baseman Paul Konerko is stepping up his workouts in preparation for a return to the active roster, somewhere he expects to be by the middle of next week.

After suffering an injury to his left oblique muscle, Konerko was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 17. He was unable to take swings until Wednesday, but felt good enough that he expects to take batting practice on the field Saturday.

"[I did] 50 swings on Wednesday, 100 yesterday and 100 today," Konerko said before Friday's series opener against the Cubs. "Each day amped up the intensity, and Saturday I might warm up with more tee work and flips. It's tough to simulate games, but I'll give it everything I can handle just to test it one more time.

"There was a little tightness [Thursday], which they say is normal," Konerko added. "Today I was a little less cautious and it held up, so that's good news."

Konerko will almost certainly be making a trip to a Minor League affiliate for a few rehab games, but exactly how many is still up in the air.

"You definitely want two, just to make sure you can play and come back," Konerko said. "I've never been on a rehab assignment, so it's probably more the people that are reporting back to our people are making the call. I'll just be happy to get back on the field, get some swings and get back into it."

Konerko hit the disabled list for the first time in his career at a tough time, missing both crosstown series with the Cubs. The White Sox are 5-5 in the time Konerko has been out. He's watched the White Sox sweep the Pirates and then get swept by their North Side rival, although he stayed home when the White Sox traveled to Los Angeles earlier this week.

"The first week [on the DL] kind of flew by," Konerko said. "This week has taken forever. It's probably as many emotions back and forth on the DL as playing.

"One minute, you're at peace with it and know what to do and know it will be fine. The next minute, you're down in the dumps and depressed, and five minutes later you have positive thoughts. So it's back and forth and it takes a good four to five days to accept that you'll be inactive for at least two weeks. It's tough to grab onto because I've never had to deal with that."

David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.