White Sox general manager Rick Hahn recently met with free agent Paul Konerko and made it clear that he’d welcome the 38-year-old first baseman back in a part-time role.
However, during an interview with WSCR-AM radio in Chicago team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf revealed that the White Sox still “have no idea” if Konerko even plans to continue playing:
I have no idea. It’s truly Paul’s option. He has earned the right to come back if he wants to come back. He’s been the most popular player over the last 15 years that we’ve had. … He’s basically a White Sox lifer. He’s a terrific teammate. He’s our captain and he just has to make a decision whether he wants to come back or not.
At some point the White Sox will presumably need an answer from Konerko so they can move on with their offseason one way or another, although if he’d truly be returning in a part-time bench role perhaps timing isn’t that important.
Konerko hit .244 with 12 homers and a .669 OPS in 126 games for the worst OPS of his career and the White Sox signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to play first base while also having Adam Dunn at designated hitter.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.