CLEVELAND -- In discussing all aspects of Major League Baseball, White Sox captain Paul Konerko is about as eloquent as you will find in the game.
But when talk of Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown chase came up Tuesday, the White Sox captain cut right to the heart of the matter.
"He's the best in the world right now. He's a tremendous hitter," said Konerko. "He's so good it's not even funny."
Konerko went on to say that Cabrera is the American League Most Valuable Player, even though he described Mike Trout as "awesome" and "definitely deserves to be there over what he's done in five months." Konerko would like to see Cabrera win batting average, home runs and RBIs outright, something White Sox iconic television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson watched Carl Yastrzemski do in 1967 as his Red Sox teammate.
Harrelson raves about the player and character that is Yastrzemski. He had the same strong praise for the Tigers' third baseman.
"In the last quarter of a century, maybe further than that, the three smartest hitters coming into this league have been Frank Thomas, the first eight years he was here, he was the best right-handed hitter I ever saw, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera," Harrelson said. "Cabrera is the best hitter in the game."
Konerko to have wrist procedure Thursday
CLEVELAND -- Paul Konerko will have a surgical procedure on Thursday at Rush University Medical Center to remove a floating bone fragment in his left wrist that has been bothering him to some extent since 2008.
"The sooner the better," Konerko said. "It was going to be the day after the season, whether it be this Thursday or we made the playoffs.
"It was going to be as quick as we could whenever the season ended. I think they had some dates scheduled, kind of tentatively, so that's what's going to happen."
Konerko spoke of having this surgery as far back as June 6, after missing a home game against the Blue Jays to have the fragment flushed to a less painful spot. The 36-year-old missed two games when he had the same painful flushing procedure at the same point one year earlier.
After the 2011 injection, Konerko was not bothered by the bone chip for the remainder of the season. He chose not to have offseason surgery because he felt as if the situation might be under control, but when the chip moved back into the joint during a June 4 off-day, he knew something had to be done.
Konerko carried an astonishing .399 average into May 28, but then hit .241 in June, .231 in August and .242 in September. The .312 average Konerko posted in 2010 was his career high, so that .399 number was bound to come down. But the White Sox captain stated Tuesday that the bone chip or the procedure done to alleviate the pain was not a factor in the aforementioned struggles.
"After I had that procedure done, it hung around a little longer," Konerko said. "There were definitely games we were playing the Cardinals [June 12-14] and the Dodgers [June 15-17] on the road and it wasn't a good time then.
"If something happened then that caused this, that caused that. ... It's a fragile thing when you're talking about the way you feel at the plate. I've been doing baseball for a while and even if that was the case, you should overcome that at some point."
Thursday's procedure doesn't give Konerko any pause for concern regarding future success, other than the fact he's never had surgery before. As for his .299 average, 25 homers and 73 RBIs this season, even such a strong effort doesn't leave Konerko completely satisfied.
"It's really no different than any other year: some stuff you like," Konerko said. "I don't think I've ever walked away from a year loving everything and this one's no different."
Cooper pleased with young pitching staff
CLEVELAND -- In order for Don Cooper to properly assess the success of his 2012 staff, the White Sox pitching coach simply went down the list of hurlers who made positive contributions.
"Am I happy with Chris Sale? You bet. Am I happy with [Jake] Peavy? You bet," Cooper said. "Am I happy with [Jose] Quintana? You bet, coming out of A ball. Am I happy with [Hector] Santiago? Yes. [Addison Reed]? Yeah, rookie year. I don't know how many saves he had but he had a nice rookie year.
"We lost our Opening Day starter and it seemed like we had to plug holes throughout the year. I think we did that to a large degree."
Not only was John Danks, the Opening Day starter, done after only nine starts because of a shoulder problem that required season-ending surgery, but the White Sox also had to make up for the innings loss of left-hander Mark Buehrle and closer Sergio Santos. Most of those innings were filled by young hurlers, with 10 rookies making an appearance during the 2012 campaign.
The 4.05 staff ERA wasn't perfect but it was about as good, if not better, than could have been expected.
"We didn't get where we wanted to go and that's a disappointment, no question," Cooper said. "But I'm not so sure we didn't get everything out of the guys as best we could out of them."
Third to first
Alex Rios will not play in the final two games of the 2012 season, after not having a day off since Aug. 8 and playing 50 straight games. Rios set career highs with his .304 average, 25 homers and 91 RBIs. Rios finished 11-for-22 over his last six games.
Dayan Viciedo's grand slam in Monday's 11-0 victory was the first of his career and the team's sixth this season. Since 20006, the White Sox have 49 slams and rank second in the Majors to the Yankees' 50.