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Disciplined Konerko climbing club's ranks

Disciplined Konerko climbing club's ranks

CHICAGO -- The discipline and hard work used by Paul Konerko to reach 2,137 hits with the White Sox reminds many of the style in which current manager Robin Ventura played the game. They both were true leaders by example.

With a wry smile, though, Ventura said Konerko clearly is the better player.

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"He's a better player and that carries more weight. His longevity shows that," Ventura said. "Everybody is different, but for him there's a method to what he does and what he believes in and what he feels he has to do before he goes to the plate. A lot of people can have that and not have the talent. He has the talent.

"When you have a guy like him, people see what he's doing. He's always been like that. He is a leader. He doesn't have to scream. He does it by example. If he has something to say, he'll say it, but most of it is by example."

Konerko moved past Frank Thomas for third place on the club's hit list with an RBI single -- No. 2,137 -- in the fourth inning Friday night against the Mariners.

Konerko knows his swing about as well as any hitter in the American League, but admits he's always tinkering to refine it or even find it at some points during the season. He's always a team-first guy but took the time Friday to talk about his name being associated with the Big Hurt.

"Frank's the best hitter that's ever been in this organization, so just to have that in a category where you're tied with him ...," Konerko said. "No. 1 is just being out there a lot and showing up to the play. I'm proud of that.

"Some of that stuff can get skewed a little bit. I don't know what the at-bats are. I think I played longer here than he did maybe by a little bit now. He walked so much because guys were afraid of him, so he had less at-bats to actually swing the bat. There are things you factor into it. But it's cool nonetheless, any time you get mentioned with a guy that's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer here soon.

"Obviously, the biggest key for any hitter is trying to be as disciplined as you can to the work every day coming in here," Konerko said. "It sounds easy, but it's hard to come in every day year after year and keep doing it, get your work in the right way. And to go out there and compete, that's basically it. And there's a lot of luck."

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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