When Paul Konerko decided against retiring and re-signed with the White Sox both sides agreed that he’d be returning in a diminished role, but now that’s a reality: Konerko will not be in the Opening Day lineup today for the first time since 1998.
Konerko is slated to play mostly versus left-handed pitchers and Twins starter Ricky Nolasco is a right-hander. There was some thought to giving Konerko the start anyway, but the 38-year-old first baseman told manager Robin Ventura to treat it just like any other game and stick to the playing time plan.
That means Cuban slugger and $68 million offseason signing Jose Abreu will start in Konerko’s old spot at first base and Adam Dunn will get the nod at designated hitter. And as Ventura pointed out to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com, maybe Konerko can come off the bench in a big moment and provide some Opening Day excitement that way.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.
The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.