Opposite-field power: A portrait.
Paul Konerko's not known for his speed, and so we probably should have temperered our expectations about his climbing abilities. If you had to clock how long it took him to fully break his slump on a Konerkometer, the needle would probably stop at "wall single."
He had shown signs of breaking out of his physical rut over the last week. He'd stopped lunging at the ball in an attempt at homering his way out of it, because he just jammed himself more often than not. To combat that problem, he went to the other extreme by waiting back and poking the ball to right field. It worked in terms of avoiding outs, as he went 8-for-20 over his previous six games. Still, seven singles and a double doesn't do somebody with Konerko's acceleration a whole lot of good, and the fact that he hadn't homered in July was a significant concern.
He finally figured out how to reintroduce aggression into his swing against Francisco Liriano on Monday night. In his first at-bat, Konerko was ready for Liriano to stay away. He tracked a first-pitch changeup as it tailed out of the zone, and made solid contact on a fastball off the plate for strike one. When Liriano stayed away for a third time, Konerko locked in, put a hard swing on it, and connected for his first home run of July, and his first one to right field all season.
Over the course of the evening, he covered the whole plate and hit to all fields, and the video evidence is below:
Konerko was the focus after the game, and of course he wasn't as excited as a lot of other people were.
- Konerko says left wrist isn't affecting his power, proves it with first-inning home run - chicagotribune.com
Konerko was asked point-blank if his wrist had limited his power, and he rejected it "tersely." Apparently, you can trace any wrist-related struggles only to a week after his return.
Amid the usual heavy dose of pragmatism for Konerko, he breaks with the usual athletespeak and says that scoreboard-watching isn't the worst thing for the Sox at this point in the season.
Adam Dunn, on the other hand, says he doesn't know exactly where the Sox sit in the division. But the video is worth watching later on, when he says Konerko might start "feeling a little sexy," and then loses his train of thought.
On a related note, Brent Morel launched a Twitter account as he began his rehab stint, and we now have a record of the first notable thing I can remember Morel saying (or, in this case, typing).
mufasa aka Paul Konerko giving advice to his son @gordonbeckham— Brent Morel (@Bmorel_22) July 23, 2012