8/24/2014 5:55 P.M. ET
White Sox proud of U.S. Little League champs
By Jamal Collier / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- By making it to the Little League World Series championship game on Sunday, Chicago's Jackie Robinson West has provided a spark to Chicago's baseball fan base during a disappointing season for both the White Sox and Cubs.
"It's a feel-good story to have those kids playing there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You don't want to have it be too much for them, but on the other hand, you let it go. They're reacting to it great. You see the highlights and how they're doing, and they're fun to watch."
Jackie Robinson West, the first team made up entirely of African Americans to advance to both the U.S. championship game and world finals, dropped an 8-4 decision to South Korea on Sunday.
The White Sox have been able to catch glimpses of the action from Williamsport, Pa., but have usually been preparing or playing in games of their own at the same time. Ventura coached his son in Little League for a few years after retirement and has watched as many of Jackie Robinson West's games as he can.
"It's fun. Having done Little League, you understand the excitement of the kids, the parents, how special it is," Ventura said. "And Williamsport is a really neat opportunity for them. The setting is great. All of those teams from different countries, how they interact and get along. I think the sportsmanship is great."
Konerko makes final appearance at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK -- The first baseball game Paul Konerko ever attended was at Yankee Stadium back when he was 6 years old.
So when he was informed about an hour before Sunday's game that the Yankees planned to honor him before the first pitch, it made for a special moment.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter presented Konerko, the White Sox captain, with a base autographed by the Yankees as the last of the 43,366 fans were filing into their seats.
"It's the highlight of the year for me so far," said Konerko, who was born in Providence, R.I. "[Yankee Stadium's] all I ever knew as a kid. The fact that I'm getting a gift for something I did on the field in all the time between that and now is mind-boggling. You just don't think about things like that."
Both Jeter and Konerko announced before the start of the year that 2014 would be their final seasons, but their retirement tours have been drastically different.
Jeter is still the everyday shortstop for New York, praised at the All-Star Game and honored at every park he visits for the final time. Konerko is no longer an everyday player for Chicago and his final season has been much more understated, which is on par for his entire career.
"Derek's has taken on a whole different way," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "His is just different than everybody else's. Not surprised."
The Cubs honored Konerko before his final game at Wrigley Field earlier this season, with the No. 14 off their vintage hand-operated scoreboard. He is expected to receive more recognition once the White Sox make their final trips to play teams in the American League Central.
"Players on the other teams do realize it," Ventura said. "You see the reaction he gets in BP and things like that. But I don't know if other teams do it as much if you're not within their division."
Konerko entered Sunday as a career .309 hitter against the Yankees with 23 homers and 65 RBIs (.327 average, 15 homers and 36 RBIs in the Bronx). However, in his final game, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a 7-4, 10-inning setback.
Konerko knew he would be taking a reduced playing role before the start of the year, with pinch-hit appearances and starting usually only against lefties, and Ventura said Konerko has totally embraced it. As the veteran in the clubhouse, he has become one of the motivational guys for some of the White Sox younger players, which is especially important for a team in transition.
"He's done a lot," Ventura said. "It's different from when you're an everyday player and can let your play speak for itself. There's part of this that he lets that speak for itself, but it's more of conversations within the game, right after the game, than you'd normally have. I think he's stepped up and knows that's his responsibility."
The White Sox honored Jeter prior to his final game at U.S. Cellular Field earlier this season, and on Sunday the Yankees returned the favor.
"A classy move by them, you don't expect it, and to have Derek out there as the guy giving it to me, that's pretty cool," Konerko said. "For someone who tries not to pay attention to that stuff, because it's the Yankees and my childhood dealt with the Yankees and any game I went to was a Yankee game, all those things combined, off-the-field stuff, that's the highlight for me so far."
Third to first
• Adam Eaton went 2-for-5 with a double and scored a run in his first rehab game with Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday. Eaton, who is recovering from a strained right oblique, could join the White Sox as quickly as the start of the team's next homestand on Tuesday, but Ventura wants to see how he responds to playing again on Sunday before he makes a decision.
"You want him to be back as soon as possible, but you also want him to be ready," Ventura said.
• White Sox prospect Tim Anderson went 7-for-9 with two doubles, three runs and three RBIs in his first two games at Double-A Birmingham.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.