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Konerko commanding respect in farewell year

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The reaction toward Paul Konerko coming back for a 16th season with the White Sox before retiring was one of overwhelming excitement by pitchers and catchers Saturday.

"I'm glad he's going to be back," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said, adding that White Sox general manager Rick Hahn commented on Konerko's positive influence. "Then I hear some other people saying that can't be that important.

"Stuff like that is important. That is big for a team, especially with the young guys we have and the younger group we have overall. Having a guy like him is going to be huge for everybody; whether you're swinging bad or doing terrible and getting down on yourself. A guy like that can be a real good influence."

Flowers said he texted Konerko recently and asked, "Why aren't you here?" Konerko responded by texting, "I'm pacing myself, kid."

"Paul is the captain; it's going to be a lot different when he's not around," White Sox starter John Danks said. "We are going to be enjoying as much time as we can having him around, and hopefully he goes out with a bang."

"Especially after last year, no one wants to end on that kind of note; he deserves better than that," White Sox starter Chris Sale said. "That's what we're here to do. One last hurrah and see if we can make a splash for him."

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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