Paul Konerko returning to White Sox


CHICAGO -- White Sox team captain Paul Konerko will forgo retirement and return for a 16th season on the South Side.

Konerko, 37, will make $2.5 million next season, with $1 million of that deferred until 2021. Under terms of his previous contract signed in December 2010, Konerko will receive $1 million annually from 2014 to 2020.

He will have a limited role next season, however, with Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn also on the roster. He will platoon at DH with Dunn and back up Abreu at first base.

"It really wasn't a difficult process on our end," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "It was more about giving Paulie all the information and the time and space to come to his own decision about how he felt about the new role. Really, it was just incumbent on us to be honest with him and tell him straight how the fit would work out and how we envisioned the club going forward."

As recently as early November, Konerko had yet to make a decision. But he started to inform teammates of his choice this past weekend. Hahn said last month that a roster spot would be available for Konerko if he wanted it.

Upon completing a disappointing season in 2013 that was marred by nagging injuries, including a lower back issue, Konerko said he needed time to decide if he wanted to keep playing. He could have signed elsewhere after his contract expired, but he seemed set on either returning to the White Sox or retiring.

"The easiest thing for me would have been to just retire," Konerko said. "That would have been the easiest thing. I know this is a challenge. I know that there's people that are possibly going to question me, this and that. The easiest thing would have been to retire. No one would have thought twice about it. They would have been like, 'Good career, nice going.'

"But again, it was tough to weigh last year. And a lot of my teammates, just unprompted messages and voicemails from guys, helped me think, 'Hey, there's still something that I can go back to and have some fun.' It's been a while since we had some fun. I'm going to try and go out this year and let it all go."

Konerko's production this past season was well below his career .281 batting average, .356 on-base percentage and .491 slugging percentage. His 12 home runs and 56 RBIs were his lowest marks in a White Sox uniform.

"The one thing about this role, there will be more times when I'm not playing," Konerko said. "Again, I've had to process this. ... The way last year went, it was a terrible feeling not only personally [that] it didn't go well, but I've been here so long and this is where it is for me. It killed me to see what went on last year.

"If I can get the [ Gordon] Beckhams and the [Dayan] Viciedos, Abreu, [ Conor] Gillaspie, any of these guys. If I can help to get them going ... that's kind of where a lot of my energy will be spent. It'll be a little bit different."

The six-time All-Star batted just .244 with a career-low .355 slugging percentage in 2013, his 15th season in a White Sox uniform.

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