Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko hits a single during the fifth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, May 24, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Don't count out Paul Konerko just yet.
The White Sox announced Wednesday its team captain has agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract to continue on as first baseman and designated hitter.
“Paul needed time this fall to step away, think about his situation, and reach his own conclusions," general manager Rick Hahn said. "We are very pleased that he has decided to come back for another season."
Konerko became a free agent at the end of last season, signaling rumors of his retirement. In October the White Sox hired 26-year-old Jose Abreu, a free-agent first-baseman from Cuba who was expected to succeed Konerko at first, for $68 million over six years.
Turns out the team still has big plans for the six-time American League All-Star Konerko going forward. Those plans include transitioning Abreu into his new role.
“Paul will play an important role on the 2014 team," Hahn said, "by collecting at-bats as the designated hitter against certain left-handed pitching, by assisting Jose Abreu’s transition into the role of primary first baseman, as an option for Robin off the bench in specific game situations, and as an incredibly important mentor and leader within our clubhouse.”
Konerko ranks second in team history in home runs, RBI, total bases and games played, the team notes. He was acquired from Cincinnati in 1998.
“I’m looking forward to coming back in a new role where I can help both the organization and my teammates get turned around in the right direction and also do some productive things on the field,” Konerko said.