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Konerko adjusting to role off the bench

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DETROIT -- Paul Konerko had 9,201 career plate appearances prior to this 2014 season.

Many of them were very successful, as evidenced by his 2,302 hits and 434 home runs. None of them really prepared the White Sox captain for his pinch-hitting/part-time role he's taken on in this 16th and final season playing for the South Siders.

"I've played a million games. I've been playing for a long time," Konerko said. "But you know this role here, no matter how many games you played before or where you are at, it's always a little bit of an adjustment. It still is.

"There are some things that happen just in talking to guys who have done it before, you go out and feel good. Your eyes tell you what to do and you are doing everything right and everything doesn't end up going right.

"That's normal is what I'm saying," Konerko said. "You have to practice it a little bit."

Everything has become a little better for Konerko over his last two games, with four hits in five at-bats. He surpassed Frank Thomas as the franchise leader in career total bases with an eighth-inning double in Wednesday's 6-4 victory.

And getting two late at-bats in Tuesday's loss, including a ninth-inning single to break an 0-for-17 skid, helped set up Konerko for Wednesday's three-hit effort.

"Get out in the field, move around a little bit. That's by design, why Robin threw me in there, because he knew I would be playing [Wednesday]," said Konerko, who also gave Jose Abreu a few innings off at first Tuesday. "Three weeks of doing this, and I think I've gotten better at it in terms of every time my name gets called, I'm a little calmer and a little more collected. It seems normal to me.

"Just because I've had so many thousands of at-bats in my career doesn't necessarily mean anything for this role. It's its own animal. You have to kind of be good at it and practice a little bit. Hopefully I can as the year goes on be really good at it. I want to be not just OK, but really good at 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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