03/07/2013 8:06 PM ET
Konerko never a replacement option for Team USA
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- When Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was taken off the Team USA roster Tuesday due to a strained tendon in his right wrist, White Sox slugger Paul Konerko didn't have to wonder if he would get a call to participate as a replacement in the World Baseball Classic.
Once Konerko wasn't announced as part of the original roster in January, he basically took himself out of consideration.
"I was either on or off no matter what goes on anywhere else. That was the deal, at least on my end of it," Konerko said. "I just wanted to know if I was either coming to Spring Training and leaving to go play for it or coming to Spring Training and being a White Sox the whole time. I wasn't going to be waiting to see if someone could go down and all of a sudden I have to change my plans."
Konerko had checked the no box in regard to being part of Team USA during the two previous World Baseball Classics. He did the same thing this time around, but was talked into reconsidering by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
There still was no guarantee he would make the roster, but Konerko decided to give it a shot and see what happened. He also told them for overall preparation purposes that he would not be an alternate.
"So, I knew there was no chance in me playing for that the second that I wasn't on the team," Konerko said.
While Konerko said he was a little bit ahead of schedule in his offseason preparation into January because he didn't know if he was on Team USA or not, it was family stuff as much as disrupting his Spring Training route that played upon his original decision.
"Because when you are going to be traveling, they were going to go to Miami. It was stuff like that I had to know," Konerko said. "I wasn't going to be blitzed with it."
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City's left-handed-hitting first baseman, was chosen as Teixeira's replacement. And even though Konerko knew he wasn't a candidate, he felt adding a right-handed hitter didn't make sense.
"They should have a left-handed first baseman," Konerko said. "I knew when Tex got hurt I wasn't going, but it wouldn't make sense anyways. I knew once in January I didn't make the team I wasn't playing in it. There was no way I could or would. It was done already."
White Sox rotation in good shape after Sale deal
MESA, Ariz. -- Pitching wins championships.
A lack of pitching also can cause teams to go out and overpay to fill out their rotation. With the White Sox agreeing to a five-year, $32.5 million extension with Chris Sale on Thursday, buying out three years of arbitration and one year of free agency, their rotation looks in good shape for the next four or five years barring injury.
Sale, John Danks and Jose Quintana all are locked down through 2016.
"It makes us feel good about that. as well as the progress some of our young guys have shown this spring: [Simon] Castro, [Erik] Johnson, (Scott) Snodgress," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn after the Sale deal was announced. "It makes you feel like we'll have some pitching depth and some options going forward.
"Obviously this past offseason was a pretty robust one in terms of where the compensation was going. So being able to lock something down before there was further escalation in Chris' market had a lot of appeal to us."
Hahn pointed out that there was a fairly defined market for starting pitchers with two-plus years in the Majors. What they signed for provided a starting basis for the White Sox and Sale's camp, with Sale entering this year at two years, 61 days of service time.
"Then it really came down to them trying to grind as much as they could out of us and making the decision if it was efficient for Chris to commit at that time," Hahn said. "We really view it as we ideally do all multi-year deals between us and a player, in that it's something that everyone benefits from potentially."
Quintana focused on throwing strikes
MESA, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana struck out four Cubs over 3 2/3 innings during Thursday's 8-3 White Sox victory at HoHoKam Park. And during the first couple of years of his Minor League career as part of the Yankees, Quintana fanned 156 over 105 1/3 innings.
Yet, the southpaw appears more worried about throwing strikes than amassing strikeouts.
"In the Minor Leagues, I was able to strike out a lot of batters. Last year I didn't as much, but was able to throw more strikes," said Quintana through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz after Thursday's effort. "I want to be very efficient with my pitches. Pitching to contact is OK, but I want to be able to strike them out too."
Quintana fanned 122 over 185 innings combined between Double-A Birmingham and the White Sox in 2012. His career high for a game is eight, recorded against the Rangers on July 5.
Third to first
• With his two homers among his three hits in Thursday's 8-3 victory over the Cubs, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko has hits in his last six at-bats.
• Jesse Crain tested his strained right adductor while throwing off of a mound Thursday. Manager Robin Ventura believes Crain could be in a game "before too long."
"It was more precautionary to have him not go to the Canadian team," said Ventura of Crain, who pulled out of the World Baseball Classic because of the injury and has pitched in one Cactus League game. "He wanted to go, but I think with where he was, it's better for him not to go."
• Reliever Leyson Septimo left Thursday's victory with two outs in the ninth inning after allowing a two-run homer to Christian Villanueva and getting Darnell McDonald to ground out. Septimo was complaining about his arm, according to Ventura.
"It's one of those where you don't take any chances and get him out," Ventura said. "That was a pretty quick decision."
• Ventura has no set date to announce his Opening Day starter, although it is expected to be Chris Sale.
• Jeff Keppinger finished 1-for-3 with a double hitting in the third spot Thursday. Ventura doesn't want too much to be read into anything with the White Sox Cactus League batting order, aside from Keppinger's versatility.
"The way he handles the bat, he can really bat anywhere. He moves it around, doesn't strike out much," Ventura said. "Putting him in the middle, it works. It's a good time with [Alex] Rios being out that you kind of move around different guys in the lineup."