CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham won't be making any player personnel decisions for the Chicago White Sox.
The talented second baseman also doesn't quite have enough big league seniority to be consulted by general manager Ken Williams on players who will help or hurt the future of the franchise. But Beckham doesn't need to be a 10-year veteran to know one particular fact to be true concerning the team.
Paul Konerko, a free-agent-to-be after the 2010 campaign, needs to return to the White Sox. Beckham made that point clear about the team captain in a chat with MLB.com prior to Wednesday's contest with the Twins.
"He's a guy we need to have back, for sure," said Beckham. "This team, he is our leader, he's had a great year. He deserves to be back here and paid the right way."
This current season marks the end of Konerko's five-year, $60 million deal, agreed upon with the White Sox after they won the 2005 World Series title. Back in 2005, Konerko finished with a .283 average, 40 home runs and 100 RBIs.
Apparently, the first baseman should teach seminars on how to properly handle potential walk-away years. He has a .323 average, marking his third season hitting over .300, 36 home runs and 104 RBIs. Konerko ranks second overall in the American League in home runs, fifth in RBIs and fifth in average. No White Sox has finished a season ranked in the Top 5 of all three Triple Crown categories since Albert Belle in 1998.
Belle finished second in homers and RBIs and third in average. But Beckham believe it's something more than the raw statistics making Konerko so valuable to the White Sox.
"If he leaves, then you have people that have to fill his spot," Beckham said. "I don't know if anyone here is ready for that. You have to think we need him back for the sole purpose of having a guy around who knows the game and is real cerebral about the game. He's that guy."
Garcia unlikely for Saturday; Jenks uncertain
CHICAGO -- Don't look for Freddy Garcia to take his normal turn in the starting rotation Saturday afternoon against the Tigers. Garcia cut short his side session on Tuesday with continued pain in his back and might try to throw again on Thursday.
If Garcia can't go, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was leaning toward long reliever Tony Pena in his place. Pena gave up four runs over seven innings during a spot start on Aug. 21 against the Royals but also pitched three scoreless innings in relief during Wednesday's 9-3 loss.
"Right now, the situation we [face], I think we would be better off with the veteran pitcher in Pena," said Guillen of his long reliever, who threw 32 pitches Wednesday. "But we got to see if we use him here in the next couple games or next start, but I don't expect Freddy to start a game.
"I don't like [what I heard Tuesday]. He didn't sound good. He was throwing on the side and still feeling that a lot. Coming from Freddy, that means he can't tolerate the pain because he's been pitching with pain. Then, we go to go Plan B. Plan B is in the air."
Another loss to the Twins on Thursday, with Minnesota completing the sweep, could lead to Garcia being shut down for the final two weeks of the season.As for reliever Bobby Jenks, bothered by ulnar neuritis in his right forearm, his return looks as if it will come during the six-game road trip to Oakland and Anaheim.
"Bobby might be pitching, maybe, I expect, I don't know if he will be, in the Detroit series," Guillen said. "Hopefully, when we go to the West Coast, he'll be ready to pitch. I cannot say the date because I don't hear anything positive about the situation. That's why I got to hold on and see how he's doing."
Konerko knew Thome would connect
CHICAGO -- During the offseason, Paul Konerko knew his friend and former teammate Jim Thome might end up with the American League Central rivals in Minnesota. So, he had the chance to brace for the move.
Konerko never had a doubt Thome would hit, if given the proper opportunity.
"The fact of the matter is Jim will do well," said Konerko of Thome, who is hitting .282 with 23 home runs and 56 RBIs. "There's no stopping Jim. If he's healthy and got a bat in his hand, he will hit.
"So, it's that simple. You can't wish or bet against Jim. If he's healthy and out there, he's going to do well."
Thome was a beloved figure in the White Sox clubhouse and throughout the organization. But the fact of the matter is he's now playing for the enemy, which tempers the South Side enthusiasm for his accomplishments.
"There's no double-edged sword for me. I'm not rooting for Jim Thome," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said. "I love him as a human being and as a ballplayer and all of that. I love the man. But I'm not rooting for him. There's no divided loyalty here. Sorry, it is what it is. I want to win."
"You wish it wasn't for Minnesota, and instead for some team in the National League somewhere," Konerko said. "You don't want to see Minnesota do well, but every time I see Jim, I want to see him do well. He's a great teammate, a great guy."
Pierzynski catches 1,000 innings again
CHICAGO -- With 2 1/3 innings caught during Wednesday's 9-3 loss to the Twins, A.J. Pierzynski reached the 1,000 innings caught mark for the sixth time with the White Sox and ninth overall. The six straight seasons with at least 1,000 innings extended his club record, and Pierzynski joins Jason Kendall as the only two catchers to hit this milestone over the past nine seasons.
Pierzynski also has hit .400 with 19 RBIs in his last 25 games, raising his average from .231 to .270 and bumping up his RBI total to 52.
Third to first
On Wednesday, Chris Sale gave up a run for the first time in his last nine relief appearances. ... Juan Pierre stole second base in the third inning Wednesday to move past Barry Bonds for 32nd place on the all-time stolen base list with 515. ... Paul Konerko has reached base in 19 straight games against the Twins. ... Gavin Floyd is 2-8 with a 6.49 ERA against the American League Central this season, while the White Sox are 30-35 within their division. ... The White Sox are 2-10 over their last 12 games against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field, being outscored 90-41.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.