GLENDALE, Ariz. - He agreed to come back for a final year, a farewell tour if you will, which Paul Konerko definitely deserves.
The Chicago White Sox were thinking about their future when they signed Cuban defector Jose Abreu for $68 million to play first base.
But once Konerko decided to come back, they also honored the past in re-signing him for a 16th consecutive season in Chicago.
Among active players, only Derek Jeter, also departing, has been with one team longer.
"There are always things I can do," said Konerko, no longer a starter.
Konerko will be 38 Wednesday. He grew up in the Phoenix area, was drafted by the Dodgers, went to Cincinnati for a few games and then in 1999 was traded to the White Sox, where he led the team in home runs for 12 seasons and helped them win the 2005 World Series.
"There's always roles I can play," Konerko said of his status. "I'm a lot like a utility infielder. It's just a natural thing. Some of [the change] is baseball stuff. Some of it's personal, as you get older. Just because you're doing well on the baseball field doesn't mean you always continue to play.
"I have three kids. There are other things in your life, some important. You have to balance that all out."
In January, confirming that this will be his last year, Konerko told Chris Cwik of cbssports.com, "My wife laid down the law."
But as a resident of Paradise Valley, about 15 miles from Glendale, Konerko does not desert his family during spring training.
"We were in Tucson and that was fine," he said. "But since we came here in 2009, I get to go home every night and sleep in my own bed. It's a nice setup."