TORONTO -- Chicago White Sox captain Paul Konerko passed the midway point of his final season Saturday, and he said Sunday his last year has lived up to the expectations he had in December when he decided to return in a part-time role.
"From a team standpoint, it's been great," Konerko said. "Judging from where we were last year, we're actually playing good baseball and competing. Personally, it's probably been everything I thought it would be. Different, but no regrets on doing it."
Konerko said he would try not to focus on nearing retirement over the final three months.
"You can either embrace it and have fun with it and try to enjoy it, or not," Konerko said. "It's going to happen, but I'm trying not to let the days before that get away from me. There are a lot of positives. Every time I have a bad thought about it coming to an end, I usually think about a lot of things that will be benefits of being done, so that usually cancels it out."
Nice surprise: White Sox manager Robin Ventura called right-handed reliever Zach Putnam a "great surprise" this season.
Putnam, who earned his first career save Saturday night, joined the Sox as a minor league free agent in the offseason with just 15 major league appearances. Since he was called up in April to replace Donnie Veal in the bullpen, he has compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.30 ERA, 11 walks and 25 strikeouts in 311/3 innings.
"I don't think anybody would have thought he'd be right here where he's at -- maybe he did," Ventura said. "He's done a lot of good things for us that are hard to duplicate. ... He started working games earlier in the game and then has kind of worked his way into being in at the end, and now here he was in the ninth inning. It's a nice story."
Even though Putnam successfully finished the game Saturday, Ventura said he was sticking with the closer-by-committee plan. Jake Petricka pitched in the ninth with a four-run lead Sunday and would have gone in regardless of the score, Ventura said.
Into the fire: Left-handed reliever Eric Surkamp made appearances in three of his first four games with the Sox this weekend, including a perfect eighth inning Sunday.
"The other day he pitched because you want to be able to get him and see what he's got," Ventura said. "I like to get guys we called up in as fast as I can to get their anxieties over with."
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