While Derek Jeter has sucked up all of the farewell air, there is another legendary player — at least locally legendary — retiring after the final game is played on Sunday. Paul Konerko is saying goodbye after a magnificent 18-year career, sixteen of which were played for the White Sox.
Konerko played over 2,300 career games and posted a career line of .279/.354/.487 with 439 homers and 1412 RBI. He was a six-time All-Star, the 2005 ALCS MVP and led the White Sox to the World Series title that year, ending a drought that lasted longer than the much more famous Red Sox title drought. Of course, because Konerko never played in New York or Boston he never got the kind of supporting cast those teams could perpetually afford during his playing career and never got the same amount of hype.
But to a Chicago White Sox fan, Paul Konerko was just as important as Derek Jeter was to a Yankees fan. And even if he’s not getting the same kind of sendoff, he will be just as missed by the people who cheered for him.
Here he says goodbye to his fans. On Sunday, at home against the Royals, he will say it in person.
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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”
The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.
Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.