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Ventura still sees quality at-bats coming from Konerko

Ventura still sees quality at-bats coming from Konerko

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CHICAGO -- The future of Paul Konerko most likely won't be discussed by the White Sox captain until after the present season has come to a close. That point was made abundantly clear by the focused leader at the start of Spring Training.

Konerko again reinforced that point after Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Twins by basically pushing aside even general questions on the topic.

"We'll just worry about that when the time comes," Konerko said. "There's a million things. There's a lot of moving parts to it."

But White Sox manager Robin Ventura talked in broad strokes about this specific topic prior to Sunday's series finale with the Twins. Konerko entered the contest hitting .245 with nine homers and 40 RBIs, although he has 10 RBIs over 18 games since returning from a trip to the disabled list because of a lower back strain.

Ventura understands that Konerko's bat speed at age 37 is different than what it was at 27 or 30. That fact holds true for any player. He also sees a player continuing to produce quality at-bats and could do so into the immediate future.

"You can still see the way he has at-bats like he did yesterday," said Ventura. "He does have good at-bats and is able to adjust and make up for it."

Konerko spoke with Ventura earlier in the season about handling this current campaign, in regard to using him at designated hitter more or giving him one game off in a potential doubleheader, as examples. It was more about managing Konerko's 15th season in Chicago and not about whether he'll play for the White Sox or another team next season or retire.

As of Sunday, Konerko's 424 homers with the White Sox leave him 25 behind Frank Thomas for the franchise record. He ranks in the top five in 11 other club categories.

Whether those numbers continue to build with the White Sox ultimately is up to Konerko and the team's front office.

"He's not going to play for another 10 years. That much everybody knows," Ventura said. "How much he plays longer than this season is really up to him. He's had spurts where it's good and then injuries and things that there have been periods where it has slowed him down.

"That's natural for everyone when you get to a point in your career that he's at right now. Ultimately, he's the guy who has to figure that out and decide."

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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