Notes: Konerko starts after rainout
First baseman back in lineup after uncle's death on Friday
CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko returned to the White Sox lineup Sunday, missing one fewer game than he planned. Konerko missed Friday's game for an uncle's funeral in Rhode Island, and while he made it to the clubhouse before Saturday's rainout against the Devil Rays, he wasn't going to start. After an off-day Thursday, Konerko was ready to get back on the field after his mini-break.
"They won one while I was gone," Konerko said. "I watched half the game, and the main thing is we were 1-0 while I was gone. It'll be good to get that makeup game obviously."
By the time they play the Aug. 27 makeup game -- which is sandwiched between a home series against the Red Sox and a nine-game road trip at Texas, Cleveland and Detroit -- Konerko and the White Sox hope to be playing for something more important than a home sweep of the Devil Rays.
They came into the game in third place in the AL Central, 4 1/2 games back of Cleveland and three games behind Detroit. Konerko came into Sunday hitting .213, with a slight uptick thanks to a .364 average over his last six games. The team has bumped its aggregate average from .222 to .234 over its last six.
"There are four months to go, just about, and we feel like we've got the best in front of us," Konerko said. "There are a lot of good teams in this division and we know, like last year, we can have a really good year and not make the playoffs. Not that we think about stuff like that, but we just want to get to playing where we can play normal and everyone can do what they normally do."
Konerko's brief absence was just one of many the team has dealt with in the first two months of the season. As summer approaches, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is looking toward the next few months as a respite from an uneven spring.
"We're lucky we are where we are, with the way we're missing people every week, with family problems or injury," Guillen said. "We don't hit well and we still have a chance. Hopefully this summer everything will come together and we can play the way we know we can play."
Hall-worthy: Toby Hall got his second start behind the plate Sunday, changing up his usual schedule of just catching pitchers pre-game and taking batting practice. He came into the game hitting .667, or if you want to be specific, 2-for-3.
"It feels a little weird," he said of seeing his name on the starting lineup. "It'll be good to get out there, especially here at home."
Hall will have a busy week coming up, by his standards anyway. He is also likely to start Monday against Minnesota's left-handed ace, Johan Santana, and in Wednesday's getaway day contest.
"Wednesday, no matter who's pitching, Toby is going to play," Guillen said.
Hall, who speaks of his move from Tampa Bay to Chicago like a parolee talks of leaving prison, got to hang out with his old friends from the Devil Rays on Saturday's pseudo-off day. Several members of both teams got together to watch the big Ultimate Fighting Championship bout Saturday night.
"I only know a couple guys still left there," Hall said. "But we got caught up on things."
Mr. NASCAR: Guillen said he was excited to watch his fellow Venezuelan, Milka Duno, in the Indianapolis 500 Sunday.
"It's the first time in my life I'm going to watch NASCAR," he said, adding, "I think she's pretty hot."
While Guillen might not be able to differentiate between NASCAR, Indy car or a bullpen car, he does know his country is excited about Duno being one of three women drivers in the Indy field.
"I wish her the best of luck," he said. "She's making our country proud, especially right now with the tough times the country is going through."
Guillen also joked that Duno is stealing his press.
"I thought I was the icon of the country, now I'm not," he said. "I thought it was [President Hugo] Chavez, me, and that's it. Now it's her. It's something we should feel proud about."
Just after Duno crashed into the wall on Turn 66, Guillen had a more pressing problem as Pablo Ozuna blew a tire going into second on his leadoff double, forcing Guillen to come out to second and Ozuna having to leave the game.
Coming up: The White Sox face Santana at 1:10 p.m. CT for a Memorial Day showdown with the Twins, who started Sunday three games back of the Sox in the AL Central. Santana (5-4, 3.05 ERA) has lost two of three, a major slump by his standards. He threw seven innings of one-hit ball against the Sox on April 8, imploring Guillen to joke about having his mother cook some "poison" Venezuelan dishes to put Santana out of commission.
"Hopefully we handle him different," Guillen said. "Right now he's not pitching well. Maybe he's waiting for the White Sox to turn around and win a lot of Cy Youngs."
Jose Contreras (4-4, 3.71) starts for the Sox, who are 12-10 on the road.
Jon Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.