CHICAGO -- There is no hotter hitter in the American League, and possibly all of baseball, than Paul Konerko.
The White Sox first baseman finished 1-for-4 in Friday's series-opening 9-3 victory over Cleveland and now has a .526 average over his current 11-game hitting streak while knocking out 17 hits in 28 at-bats over his last eight games. His 20 multi-hit games leave him tied with Miguel Cabrera for second in all of baseball, trailing only Melky Cabrera's 22, while his .381 average and .458 on-base percentage top the AL and trail only the Mets' David Wright (.405 and .500) overall.
Yet, conversation concerning the 36-year-old's accomplishments will have to come from someone other than the White Sox captain, who doesn't believe studying his own stats has any bearing on individual or team success.
"Sometimes nowadays it's tough not to [look at statistics], but it's not by choice," Konerko said. "There's no benefit for it. It doesn't change what I have to do when I come every day. It should have no effect on what's happening tonight."
While some other accomplished veterans seem to slow down as they hit the back end of their careers, Konerko has gotten better with age. He has hit at least .300 with at least 31 homers and 105 RBIs in each of his last two seasons, and is well on his way to those totals with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 2012.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto believes Konerko's particular style of preparation will allow him to become even stronger at the plate as his career continues.
"He's a cerebral guy. He studies these guys. He knows these guys," said Manto of Konerko's work to conquer opposing pitchers. "He's getting better because of the knowledge he has not only of himself but of the league. With that, it's just phenomenal what he's doing.
"His work ethic and his past definitely are evident when he goes to the plate. He has done some great things the past seven or eight years. He has done some great things this year. I'm not surprised at all. How he talks, how he studies other pitchers, his preparation is second to none. It's a really good thing for a really good guy."
Konerko also serves as a great role model for young hitters, even if they have different styles. When Dayan Viciedo was asked about Konerko on Friday, he laughed and called Konerko's hitting streak "a work of art." He also acknowledged there's much to be taken from what Konerko does.
"Anybody and everybody should be able to learn from him and one of the biggest things is just the way he goes about the game," said Viciedo through translator and White Sox director of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "His fundamentals, those are the things ...
"You can't exactly bat like him. But if you do the things in preparing yourself and have the fundamentals, you can definitely learn about them."
Viciedo overcoming early offensive slump
CHICAGO -- As recently as May 13, Dayan Viciedo was hitting .196. But the left fielder never lost his confidence or belief that his bat would come around and he has been rewarded with a .390 stretch over his last 11 games including six homers and 13 RBIs after adding a mammoth two-run shot in the seventh during Friday's 9-3 victory over the Indians.
Viciedo admitted Friday that the recent stretch of warm weather provides more of a personal comfort zone, since he grew up in Cuba. He added that the mental part of his five-week slump was tougher than the physical part.
"It's definitely more mental," said Viciedo through translator and White Sox director of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "The reason it's more mental is because you have 1,000 things running through your head at one time. When you do that, it just too jumbled. Once you kind of get out of that, everything kind of slows down.
"I wasn't too down on myself because I knew the potential I had. I knew I needed to do some things to kind of get out of it. It's just all about putting in the work. It's just a matter of time for me to get out of it."
That dedication and extra work is all Viciedo believes he would need to move from left field back to third base. For now, he's not taking any pregame grounders at third and focused totally on the outfield.
Numbers not reflecting De Aza's quality ABs
CHICAGO -- The left-handed-hitting Alejandro De Aza is hitting .288 overall but just .196 against southpaws. Yet, De Aza took left-handed throwing Brian Duensing deep for his first career grand slam during Thursday's 11-8 victory over the Twins and has produced solid at-bats during these particular matchups.
"You don't notice it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of De Aza's statistical struggles against left-handers. "You look at the numbers and you can scratch your head, but he's had a lot of good at-bats against lefties, getting on base and kind of starting innings against lefties. I don't look at it like he needs a day off against lefties."
De Aza tries not to change much at the plate, regardless of the pitcher being right-handed or left-handed.
"It's the same approach," De Aza said. "I just let the ball come a little deeper because most of the lefties, their [pitches] run away from me. So, that's pretty much it."
Pitching the key to White Sox success
CHICAGO -- Over the last 11 games, the White Sox are hitting .286 with 24 homers and 67 runs scored. But manager Robin Ventura still believes it's the men on the mound who will set the tone for this team's success.
"Everything revolves around pitching," Ventura said. "If you don't have good pitching, you're not going to go very far, you're not going to win many games.
"It starts with them and we kind of feed off of them. And they are the ones that really set the tone early in the year the way they're pitching, not just the starters but the bullpen, too."
Third to first
Former U.S. Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Shannon Miller threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches Friday.
A Robin Ventura bobblehead will be given to the first 20,000 fans in attendance at Saturday afternoon's game. Paul Konerko passed Frank Thomas to move into sole possession of third place on the White Sox all-time games played list with 1,960, following Friday's 9-3 win over the Indians. Hector Santiago has made six consecutive scoreless appearances, covering seven innings. The White Sox are 6-4 against the Indians this season and 23-12 over the last 35 games between the two division foes.