Konerko hit in side of face, exits game
Slugger, who homered in first, walks off field under own power
CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko was hit by a Jeff Samardzija pitch in the left side of the face during the third inning of Friday's 3-2 Interleague victory for the White Sox over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Samardzija hit Konerko on a 2-2 offering, after Konerko had launched a two-run homer in the first that marked his 55th long ball in Interleague competition. Konerko was attended to by manager Robin Ventura and head athletic trainer Herm Schneider, before walking off on his own power with a towel pressed to his face.
Konerko suffered a small laceration over his left eye and some ensuing swelling.
The White Sox released a statement on Konerko's condition: "All preliminary tests came back clean and showed no problems. No other injuries were suffered beyond the laceration and some swelling above his left eye. He is going to be reevaluated prior to tomorrow night's game."
"I just hope he's OK. I think he's doing all right and you never want to see that, no matter who it is," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of his teammate. "You never want to see a guy get hurt, period. To have a ball around someone's head is a scary situation."
"Herm said he's got something under his eye or above his nose," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura when asked about Konerko after his team's second straight victory. "Anytime a guy gets his in the face, you're concerned. It's happened to him before. ... No one likes to get hit in the head."
Ventura was referring to an incident from a game on Sept. 16, 2010, when Minnesota's Carl Pavano hit Konerko with a pitch between his mouth and nose in the first inning. Konerko stayed in the game and hit a home run off Pavano in his next at-bat.
Pierzynski was able to check on Konerko in the clubhouse before he was taken for tests and reported somewhat encouraging news for the White Sox.
"His eye was pretty swelled up, but he was cognizant and didn't say he was dizzy or anything," Pierzynski said. "I've seen him get hit before and get up and go to first. It was a little scary when he didn't get right up. He seemed fine and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."
"We obviously hope Paul is OK and I think he is," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said of his teammate and friend. "But we needed to pick him up and try and win that game. We played hard and played the right way and it worked out for us."
Dayan Viciedo pinch-ran for Konerko and moved to left field, with Adam Dunn coming in from left to first base, where they both figure to be over the next few days. Samardzija, who previously had hit two opposing hitters all season, had come in high and tight one inning earlier to Alexei Ramirez. Samardzija walked from the mound toward the fallen Konerko after he was hit, apparently checking on his condition.
Samardzija also asked Pierzynski about Konerko when he came to bat leading off the bottom of the third inning. With an 85-mph splitter doing the damage on a 2-2 pitch to Konerko, the White Sox did not believe there was any sort of intent behind Samardzija's pitch, and Samardizja's respect for Konerko supported that idea.
"There are a lot of superstars in this league who put up big numbers and get paid a lot of money and Paulie is one of those guys who does that and is a superstar and does it the right way," Samardzija said. "He's not about show or about himself.
"Paulie's a great guy. That ball got away and unfortunately it hit him up high. If I could take it back, I would. The only thing that's making me OK about it is that he's a tough guy. I hope he'll be all right."
Even without that intent, the White Sox figured to retaliate with one of their leaders getting hit up high. They didn't throw at Samardzija in the third, but White Sox starter Philip Humber threw behind Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair leading off the fourth.
Humber's pitch missed, and both sides still were warned by home-plate umpire Tim Timmons. Humber and Ventura said postgame that pitch simply got away, with no intent on the right-hander's part either.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who was ejected in the contest, didn't seem to quite agree. But his focus also was on Konerko's recovery.
"You're not expecting any retaliation after somebody gets hit by a split-finger fastball," Sveum said. "We're obviously not trying to hit Paul with any kind of pitch like that. If there's retaliation, you'd appreciate it if the guy throws a little lower than he did. He didn't.
"Those are incidents that happen in baseball. I hope Paul's all right. He's a friend of mine. I play golf with him and spend some time with him. Hopefully, it's no big deal."