CHICAGO -- For the first time in the past week, Paul Konerko finally felt some improvement on Friday with the sore left calf and knee that has bothered him since being hit by a pitch on July 31.
Konerko, who missed the team's next three games and has since been limited to a designated hitter role, said he hopes to return to playing first base by Tuesday, but without being able to test it on the team's off-day on Monday, manager Ozzie Guillen said a more reasonable target is Wednesday.
"I doubt PK's back on Tuesday. I hope he does, but I doubt it because I'm not coming Monday to hit ground balls to him to see how he feels," Guillen said jokingly before adding, "I'm not going to push this kid. I don't want one problem to become another problem. He's giving us enough already the way he is right now and, as a manager, you have to respect that and appreciate that."
As for Saturday, Konerko was in the lineup as the designated hitter, batting third. Entering Saturday's game, he had recorded at least one hit in all nine of his games at DH since injuring the leg, going 11-for-33 with one home run and four RBIs during that time.
"If you can play on it, for my situation I can hit on it -- not really run on it or do anything else -- but for this point in the season and what I can offer, I can get in there and get my four at-bats or five at-bats to try to help the team," Konerko said. "For me, it's not like when I'm 100 percent healthy I'm really out there running around much anyway."
Pierzynski sidelined by bruised left wrist
CHICAGO -- White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who left Friday night's game with a bruised left wrist after being hit by a pitch, was not in the starting lineup for Saturday night's contest with the Royals. He is also unlikely to play in Sunday's series finale.
With the Royals starting left-hander Jeff Francis on Sunday and the White Sox having an off-day on Monday, manager Ozzie Guillen said the plan is to have Pierzynski back behind the plate for Tuesday's series opener against the Indians.
"A.J.'s not playing today and I don't expect him to play [Sunday]," Guillen said. "But [Sunday's] a lefty, so it's a little easier. He should be ready for Tuesday's game."
Before leaving Friday's game in the middle of the fifth, Pierzynski recorded the White Sox only hit off Bruce Chen in the left-hander's six innings. The injury-shortened night ended the catcher's streak of four straight multi-hit games. However, his first-inning single extended his overall hitting streak to five games, during which Pierzynski is 11-for-18 (.611).
He was replaced in Saturday's lineup by Tyler Flowers, who made his fourth start since being called up from Triple-A Charlotte after backup catcher Ramon Castro broke his right hand on July 9 against the Twins. Entering Saturday, Flowers was hitting .154 (2-for-13) this season and .150 (6-for-40) in his young career.
Dunn unavailable for rest of Royals series
CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Saturday and will also miss Sunday's series finale against the Royals as he tends to a family matter, manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"Dunn has some family issues," Guillen said. "He should be back -- I told him he's not playing [Sunday] either -- but he should be back Tuesday."
In his place, Brent Lillibridge made his fourth career start at first base on Saturday, as the utility man continues to adjust to the latest position added to his arsenal. With Paul Konerko still nursing a left calf and knee injury that has relegated him to DH duties and Dunn continuing to struggle at the plate, Guillen also called on Lillibridge to start at first for one game each in Minnesota and Baltimore last week.
Entering Saturday's game, Lillibridge had yet to make an error this season while playing each of the outfield positions, second base and now first base, as he continues to learn the latest one on the fly by taking pre-game infield practice.
"He's a great athlete," Konerko said. "For the most part, a guy like him who can play the infield and the outfield, and move well, most guys like that can pull it off pretty easily."
Lineup shuffle pays dividends for Sox
CHICAGO -- The White Sox lineup for Saturday's game against the Royals wasn't what most fans would have imagined for a mid-August divisional game when the 2011 campaign began.
But while four opening day starters -- catcher A.J. Pierzynski, designated hitter Adam Dunn, center fielder Alex Rios and second baseman Gordon Beckham -- were all out of the lineup, guys like Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge and Alejandro De Aza stepped in and contributed to the White Sox 5-4 victory.
After the Royals used a four-run fifth inning to take a 4-2 lead, Flowers immediately answered with his first Major League home run to lead off the bottom of the inning and pull the White Sox to within one. Then, after the White Sox had tied the game at 4, De Aza worked a four-pitch, bases loaded walk, forcing in Omar Vizquel for the winning run.
"He kept us close in the game," Guillen said of Flowers' blast. "The way we were swinging the bats on the road, we got shut down [Saturday] and we lose A.J., so to have [Flowers] contribute to today's game, it was huge. This kid, we know he can catch, but he contributed with the bat, that's a plus."
While Pierzynski was out with a bruised left wrist and Dunn was addressing a family matter, manager Ozzie Guillen was simply giving Rios and Beckham the day off and said both will be back in the lineup on Sunday.
Third to first
Since allowing one earned run in back-to-back games in Kansas City on July 19-20, Chris Sale has nine straight scoreless appearances, spanning 12 2/3 innings.
After Saturday's start, Jake Peavy has gone 44 straight innings without allowing a home run. The last long ball he served up was on June 30 in Colorado.
Juan Pierre stole his 547th base in the third inning, tying him with Bill Dahlen for 27th on the all-time list.
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.