Konerko ties record with two doublesPosted: Wednesday July 10, 2002 12:28 AM
Updated: Wednesday July 10, 2002 1:40 AM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Paul Konerko brought his hot hitting streak to his first All-Star Game.
Konerko, the AL player of the month in June, smacked a two-run double in the seventh inning Tuesday night to put the AL ahead temporarily 6-5. The game finished in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings when both teams ran out of pitchers.
Konerko, the Chicago White Sox first baseman, also had a ground-rule double in his first at-bat, tying the All-Star record for doubles in a game.
"It was a good cap on the first half," he said.
Facing Arizona reliever Byung-Hyun Kim with two on and two outs in the seventh, Konerko looked as if he might have had a home run. But the ball dropped just before the fence, bouncing off the wall in left-center.
Still, two doubles and two RBIs isn't bad for a guy who didn't even make the All-Star ballot.
"I wasn't worried about the results," he said. "I was just happy to be out there in an All-Star Game."
Though Konerko is the White Sox's regular first baseman, it was Frank Thomas who was on the All-Star ballot. But after a torrid first half, the best of his career, he was an easy choice when AL manager Joe Torre was picking his reserves.
He's hitting .328 with 20 homers, and his 71 RBIs are tied for third-most in the majors. He's also among the AL leaders in average (.328), hits (124), total bases (186) and slugging percentage (.571).
He earned player-of-the-month honors after hitting .340 in June with 12 homers and 22 RBIs. He also had four multiple homer games in June -- all after June 11.
And Konerko saved his best showing for the biggest stage. After getting plunked in the head by Chicago Cubs ace Kerry Wood on June 28, Konerko hit two homers and went 4-for-4 to rally the White Sox from an 8-0 deficit against the Cubs.
That was his second straight four-hit game.
Konerko is one of the game's most down-to-earth players, so low-key he'd be at home in a Saturday afternoon beer-league softball game. Though he hadn't campaigned for a spot on the All-Star team, he made the most of his first trip to the game.
He took part in the Home Run Derby on Monday night, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Jason Giambi. And when the AL reserves were announced before Tuesday night's game, Konerko smiled shyly as he drew some of the biggest cheers.
"I just tried to enjoy the two days," he said. "Every day of the season, you're so results-oriented. I just came here this week and said, 'Who cares? Just have fun. Just go out and enjoy it.'
"I did, and it was a good time."
Though he was a first-round draft pick in 1994 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Konerko's recent success has been a long time in coming.
Konerko was one of the top players in the Dodgers farm system, but they didn't really have a place for him on their big-league club. So they traded him to Cincinnati in 1998, where he found himself in a similar spot. He was even sent down to the minors at one point after joining the Reds.
But after being traded to the White Sox in November 1998 -- for future All-Star Mike Cameron -- Konerko finally found his perfect fit.
"The people I care about are my teammates," he said. "If I go back and they say, "Hey, you did well, you represented us well,' that means more to me than people cheering."