GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Paul Konerko knows what's going on, and while his "we can be successful without making the playoffs" statement ruffled a few feathers, take note of the context in which he said it. Here is Konerko's 20-minute talk with media upon his arrival at Sox camp Tuesday:
"I think every team this time of year is optimistic. Everybody loves everybody and everyone's hopeful of their own personal season and the team's season is going to go great as planned. But as always there's a bunch of different bumps in the road. I'm optimistic we're going to do it right and approach it the right way and soak everything we can out of this team. Where that puts us at the end we'll see. But I think if we start today and just build, as a player you start building your habits and a team you start building your habits, it's just kind of like a piece by piece thing as you go. You guys know how it is. Even May, June, sometimes with a team you don't know what you have so you certainly don't know on the first day of spring training."
On a rebuilding season:
"Well, I think it's kind of a combination. We do have a lot of young guys that are going to be on the field. We have young guys who are going to be in the bullpen, so I think the best thing to do is not make any comments about what we're going to do one way or the other. Robin and the staff are going to let us know what they want to see, how they want to go about it. Each guys are going to have a different thing in the way they're going to play. He's going to tell Gordon, 'this is what I want to see from you.' You kind of know what they're going to lay out for each guy and just kind of attack that. I don't know why there always has to be a declaration on 'this is what we're doing as a team, we're trying to win this year.' It doesn't really matter. You listen to the staff, you take their words on what they want to see you do and you run with it, and then you add it all together and see at the end and hopefully it's good. But we have a lot of young guys. You can't get around that. There's young guys in the pen, there's young guys in the field that are still trying to establish themselves. Even the older guys, if you're doing well you want to keep doing well. Guys that didn't have great years last year you want them to bounce back. There's a lot of 'ifs.' But again I don't think you have to sit there and say we're trying to win, we're trying to rebuild. Who knows. Cleveland last year, not that they won the division, but all in all I think it was a very successful year. Cleveland, they just came in looking to see what they had. But I think this year, this team, different than a lot of teams we've had recently - I hope I don't throw anybody off with this - but this can be a very successful year without making the playoffs."
On Buehrle not being here:
"You know I've been here for an hour and a half but definitely not seeing Mark that's not...I don't know what to say about that other than it doesn't seem right."
On elaborating on playoff-less season still being a success:
"We're starting with a whole new staff, a whole new era here. I think you can start building something now. Teams the last handful of years, it's been try real hard to win and you fail then come back next year and try again from a totally different angle. I think what is happening here is they're trying to build something that's a little more sustainable. My point is, if we go out there and compete this year and it doesn't happen that you see this with some other teams in the league that they kind of pick up the next year with that momentum that they built from the year before. That's why I said it could be successful. I'm not conceding anything. In today's game, there's way too many teams especially now there's another wild card spot. There;s all kinds of different things that are available to make the playoffs and there seems to be more parity. I think with a lot of young guys we have, you have to throw that into the equation that if we don't make the playoffs but it we do alright and go out and compete well and you look at the end of the year and Morel had a really good year and Beckham's had a good year and Addison Reed. Those are all good signs that it's moving in the right direction so that, in my mind, can be a success. But again you don't concede anything. You go out and play hard. There's a very fine line between those teams that finish in first place and then second or third so who knows? You have to give a lot of respect to Detroit right now not because of what they did in the offseason but because they became a really good team at the end of the year last year. They were pretty good all year, and that last month they just took it to another level. So they're the team to beat and they've got a lot of guns. We'll see what goes on there.
On seeing Rios, Dunn, Beckham bouncing back:
"I think they will. I think each guy has his own story as far as what went on. I think the work will be there. I think the chance of scenery with some of the staff and some of the people, that alone will help. But it's a makeup of a bunch of different guys. Adam can go out and have a monster season and we finish fourth and something and then what? There's a lot of pieces to the equation of having a good team but I think of Gordon and I know where he's at in his head. I think it's a good place. I think he's going to have a big year and just ready to take that step. He didn't really get to learn a lot in the minor leagues.
"He's had to learn things that most of us got to learn in Double-A on a bus, not under the brightest lights. That takes time to get those things mapped out and kind of figured out and he just unfortunately had to do it on the biggest stage the game has so I think he's at that point now where he's got that stuff hammered down. It's really kind of like his rookie year maybe again. That's the way I look at with him.
On manager and GM getting along this year:
"I would say, I don't think it was a huge deal as much as it was made out to be. But there was definitely sometimes late in the year last year especially where there was probably games and days given away because of people worrying about things that were not related to the game of baseball. I don't see that being an issue. I have a good feeling that no matter what happens this year, whatever our records winds up being I think you can look at that record and say that's what this team did. That's the true measure of this group of guys. I think the last couple years and especially towards the end last year we were just giving away games. Big league players, you should be mentally tougher than to have that stuff bother you. And I think for the longest time we were as a group. And it's not the same group every year. I think it just all came to a head. But that's how things end. If it didn't go like that then no one would see a need to make a change. Some stuff like that has to happen to make a change. But I think going into this year, I think that when you look at it will be this is what this team really had to offer. There was no side issue or side project this and that.
"I think at all times we'll be approaching it right, thinking the right stuff and getting after it and the talent will dictate what our record will end up.
On new manager Robin Ventura:
"It's different personalities. It's funny, they played together so long and you could probably draw a parallel on almost all areas of their baseabll careers and life but they're too different guys.
"It's all on the up and up. I think he's (Ozzie) in a great place there. I spoke with Mark a little bit. I think it all worked out. It got a little ugly at the end there. Again, sometimes at the end there's no way it can't get ugly. It's all said and done. I think everybody's happy where they're at and content. That's that.
Does 2005 seem like a lifetime ago?
"Yes and no. You still see some guys that were involved with that, whether they are on the team or guys you played against. You hear somebody talk about it. Yeah, it definitely would be nice to get into that situation one more time at least for me. But I don't really think about it too much. I'm always going to try to think about what's next.
"That's the way it was in 06 or 07, right after we won. As a player, you are always thinking about ... If you are sitting there looking at the headlines of something good, or I just had a great game and that was a lot of fun, the next thing you know you are 0-for-4 in the next one. Its like you are constantly taught to just keep looking straight ahead.
"But I don't think about it all that much until someone brings it up.
I don't really think about it too much. I'm sure it's the same with most of the guys still playing that won one.
Can you believe it's only you and AJ the last guys in here from 2005?
"I guess, I would have to look at the teams that won. Most times a team that wins it has some older players and take a team like the Giants who won it two years ago. Let's see where they are at in four or five years. Let's see what they have left. I don't know how to grade that out with some of the teams who have won in the past. It's going to be at some point where everyone in here won't be from that team.
"I still think the positive off of that is we did win it. Hopefully we can offer up something that gets close again or on the way to that. That we saw it all the way through one time and we know what to expect. Maybe we can help with that if we ever get in position for that again.''
In '05 nobody picked you and you won the whole thing.
"The one thing I remember about that team is when we were leaving Spring Training, I think as a player you kind of know if you paid attention. You think about your team and you think about if you are playing that team what would you think and what do they have. I remember leaving that year with that team and everyone didn't really talk about us or wasn't that big of a deal, but we were sitting around talking and that team had every piece of the puzzle. We had the answers. When you threw it on paper at the end of spring, nobody really saw it yet. But guys thought how could this team not be pretty good. We kind of figured it was a great team.
"So, I don't know we'll see as this season goes on again. It's little pieces that you sit there and say, 'If this guy is going to get those outs and do that...' You kind of add it up like an equation. A lot of guys on that team knew going out we would be pretty good. Hopefully this team gets there.
Harder for you to accept having a good year not making the playoffs?
"I try not to judge my personal, I have no goals, I set goals that are getting to the playoffs as a result. Getting a hit is a result. I try not to, I try to program myself that not of that relevant. It's all about the result and how I attack every day and get ready to play. For the team, it's the same way. Hopefully that translates into wins and everybody else does the same thing.
"It doesn't really, it doesn't slow me down. It shouldn't, You see that sometimes where a guy gets unhappy because a team turns direction and all that. It just doesn't affect me. I hope someone doesn't take that as I don't want to win. I just know how I prepare to play.
"If we are 100 games out on July 15, I better be getting ready the same way as I do Opening Day or I'll be very disappointed with myself.
Your opinion of the offseason being inactive free-agent wise for Sox?
"It didn't bother me. I knew it was coming. I knew where we were going to be going at the end of the offseason. I think from that sense, I wasn't surprised. It wasn't like I was sitting around every day checking to see if we did everything. I knew what to expect and I was prepared for it. It's kind of like when you know there's a position change. You come in and know you are going to play third or DH.
"When you know you are coming into Spring Training and you are going to hit this in the lineup and it's something you've never done or never liked, you are kind of prepared for it because you knew it was coming. You know I said at SoxFest, I was happy I won World Series. I'll always have that in my pocket.
"I would love to get another one, but if I don't, that's cool too. I look at this stage of my career, if that means I have to play 2 or 3 years, whatever it is, just so I can leave here and help people and try to get this organization, this team back on track, and then I leave and those guys do the job, then that's fine. I feel that's what I owe the team or whatever.
"That's cool with me. I don't think about big thoughts like that. I think about doing my job and producing and just getting the most as I can out of myself every day. Now, at this point in my career, it's kind of a sprint. I can see the end. I'm just trying to battle and get out there and leave it all out there."