Paul Konerko returning to White Sox

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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.

"I don't think anybody wants to go out on that kind of year," Beckham said. "Whatever his motivations for coming back, he obviously will be an influence on me and everybody in that clubhouse. With our club getting younger and younger, we need guys like him to step up and show the way for the younger guys."

Catcher Tyler Flowers , who agreed to a one-year, $950,000 deal on Monday, also is looking forward to having Konerko as a clubhouse presence for another season.

"He's been a guy who has definitely helped me transition to life in major league baseball," Flowers said. "There are things that people don't see, the daily life, handling family, dealing with time constraints, all that stuff. He's a great clubhouse guy. Regardless of what his playing situation is, he's going to be a Jim Thome type, where the organization would be foolish to not keep in contact with Paul for as long as possible."

Konerko is second on the White Sox's all-time list in home runs (427), RBIs (1,361) and total bases (3,944), trailing Frank Thomas in all three categories. He is second in games played for the White Sox at 2,187, behind Luke Appling's 2,422. He also played for a limited time at the start of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds.

"Paul Konerko has been the constant face of the White Sox organization and the heart of our clubhouse over the past 15 seasons," chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "He certainly earned the right to make this decision on his own, and we are very pleased that he has decided to return for another season. While the accomplishments speak for themselves, anyone who is in our clubhouse day in and day out knows the value Paul brings to our franchise as a leader, as a teammate, as a mentor and as our captain."

ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers contributed to this report.

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