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.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.