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Konerko stays hot with 4-for-4 day

Konerko stays hot with 4-for-4 day

Konerko stays hot with 4-for-4 day
CHICAGO -- In the eighth inning of Saturday's 14-7 White Sox thrashing of the Indians, Paul Konerko doubled to left-center off of Tony Sipp and was removed for pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge.

Konerko received a standing ovation from the 27,151 in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field, as the familiar refrain of "Paul-ee," "Paul-ee" rang out across the stadium.

Producing 21 hits over his last 32 at-bats covering eight games, with four homers and 10 RBIs, pretty much qualifies Konerko as an expert. But don't try to convince the veteran first baseman basically one week removed from getting hit in the face with a pitch that he is doing anything out of the ordinary.

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To Konerko, the results don't matter nearly as much as the process. That theory doesn't change even when holding a Major League-best average of .396, as Konerko currently features.

"You don't have it every day," said Konerko, sitting with his two young sons at his locker after finishing 4-for-4 in Saturday's 17-hit attack. "But I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of just looking at the next pitch. One pitch at a time and then I'm moving on. If it's a bad swing or you take a strike, whatever it is, I try to focus on the next pitch and be good on it. And that's it.

"Results will change. I mean, it can and will change. But all you try to do is just control what you control up there. The work, that's it. You just try to ride out a good wave when you got it."

Here's how that good wave continued rolling on Saturday. Konerko doubled a home a run off of Cleveland starter Derek Lowe with a hard ground ball past third baseman Jack Hannahan in the first inning. He drove in Adam Dunn with a double down the right field line in the third. Konerko added a third double of the ground-rule variety in the fourth before giving the Indians' pitchers a moral victory by settling for a walk in the seventh.

"Even sitting there and watching, the only guy that I can think of kind of that would be like that would be Edgar Martinez," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Konerko. "It's kind of the way he's swinging it and going the other way, pulling, it doesn't matter. He's just as consistent as anybody in the game."

"I'd give him four [balls] and send him on," said White Sox winning pitcher Jake Peavy, when asked how he would try to get out Konerko right now. "Adrian Gonzalez has had some unbelievable streaks, but Paulie's doing a mighty fine job. What I love about Paul is the consistency. Paulie's worried about first at-bat tomorrow right now, I promise you that. Paulie's just an ultimate professional and he's fun to watch."

One of the reasons Ozzie Guillen named Konerko captain and Ventura quickly affirmed that role is his ability to lead by example. Konerko really is just worried about his next at-bat Sunday and not reveling in his .571 average over his current 12-game hitting streak.

If Konerko had his choice, his average wouldn't even be shown on the scoreboard until later in the season. But it's there, in big, bright lights, and hard to ignore when it's a hit or two away from .400.

"It doesn't come easy and you are always concerned about the next at-bat and next pitch and you are working and you are grinding," Konerko said. "After the game, it's a nice feeling to get the results to validate what you are doing but I think you try to go into every game, at least I do, to have a game plan for the guy I'm going to face and what I'm going to do that day and really try to stick to it."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, 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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