Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko returns to White Sox lineup after benching

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Might this be the beginning of the end for Paul Konerko?

Konerko, who turned 37 years old in March, is hitting just .214 with a .623 OPS and White Sox manager Robin Ventura has decided to bench him for the past two games. And possibly more.

Konerko handled it well following a conversation with Ventura, telling Nate Sandell of MLB.com:

I came in ready to play. … Obviously I could have played yesterday. I could have played today. So it’s not like I’m out for some reason. I’m trusting him on that and trying to make the best of it.

For now the plan is for Konerko to rejoin the lineup, hopefully re-energized, but at age 37 there may not be a lot left to re-energize. Konerko had good all-around numbers last season, but struggled down the stretch by hitting just .243 with a .733 OPS in August and September. Add it all up and Konerko has hit .231 with a .297 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage in 82 games dating back to August 1.

UPDATE: Konerko is back in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Twins.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.