Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, bases loaded, two outs, and the hero in this story, Paul Konerko, steps to the plate.
You know what happens next just like you probably remember where you were, what you were doing and how you were doing it. You also know that from that moment on Konerko would become the face of the Chicago White Sox organization and designated clubhouse leader.
The way I see it, Konerko’s leadership is one of the many things that led to the White Sox to success during the ’05 season. Through his leadership and guidance the team was able to establish a bond and a confidence that carried them throughout the season and postseason.
It was just as deeply rooted in respect for one another as it was respect for the game of baseball. Now with Konerko no longer in the game of baseball, it must be asked, who will replace him as the new leader to give the White Sox the edge?
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If we are going to start talking leadership on the White Sox it has to start with praise for General Manager Rick Hahn who [finally] realized that there is a strict timeline for everything in baseball and their window to win is now.
Hahn quickly proceeded to acquire the necessary pieces he felt the White Sox needed to compete for the AL Central and beyond. Through this process the Whites Sox now have several candidates of guys who will be looked upon to teach and lead the younger guys on the roster.
One of those guys is veteran, first baseman, Adam LaRoche. At first, I didn’t know how the organization was going to move forward without someone who had been such a big part of the team for years like Konerko.
Flash forward two weeks into spring training and it feels no different from any other year. In fact this is the most refreshed I have felt for the start of baseball in a long time. The buzz surrounding the team is all positive and it seems the players have bought into what Hahn has built on the Southside.
The intention of the LaRoche signing was not to add to depth at first, although it couldn’t hurt giving slugger Jose Abreu a day off here and there, but rather to bring in a veteran to lead a clubhouse that has just lost their captain.
Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune noted that it was more than a coincidence when LaRoche moved into the White Sox clubhouse in Glendale that received he the locker last occupied by Konerko, as stated in this tweet:
Although LaRoche most likely won’t be around after his two-year $25-million contract is up on the Southside, he knows that in that time he is here to help the young clubhouse find their identity.
The 37-year old will be splitting playing time at first with Jose Abreu who had a great first year in the majors hitting .317 with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs. We’re only in the second week of spring training and there already looks to be a mutual respect between the two players who know that the split time at first will make them better throughout the 162-game grind.
With the White Sox poised to do big things this season an added pressure to perform will also linger. It will be interesting not only to see how the team works together but to see how LaRoche continues to embrace his new role as clubhouse leader rather than just clubhouse new guy.