ANAHEIM -- There might be no White Sox player more directly connected to Ozzie Guillen than first baseman Paul Konerko.
Konerko was named as Guillen's lone captain after the 2005 World Series championship season. And where Guillen stands as the frenetic and colorful face of the franchise, Konerko serves as the conscience and a more low-key, pragmatic extension of the White Sox manager in the clubhouse.
This connection between two top professionals with decidedly different backgrounds could make Guillen's job status with the White Sox a deciding factor for Konerko as he weighs upcoming free-agent offers. But Konerko said before Sunday's 4-3 win over the Angels that the manager simply becomes one of the many intangibles to examine when trying to come to such an important decision.
"When the time comes to examine where I'll play next year, every last factor of the team is going to be considered," Konerko said. "That's just normal. It's just smart.
"I'm not going to comment on if [Guillen] goes here or there. When you are making a decision to do something like this, you try to get as much information as you can. If that's here, I'll make a decision based on the information here. If that's somewhere other than here, I'll make the decision based on the information somewhere else."
With a .313 average, 38 home runs and 106 RBIs entering Sunday's road finale for the White Sox, Konerko has emerged as a prime American League Most Valuable Player candidate. He also has handled a walk-away year with near-perfection, much like he did in 2005.
Free agency wasn't a topic addressed by Konerko from after Spring Training until the White Sox were eliminated from postseason. But Konerko said he will talk more about the topic once the team returns home to Chicago.
Starters' struggles not entirely to blame
ANAHEIM -- The good news concerning the 2010 White Sox rotation stems from four of their five starters posting double-digit victories. Add in the combined wins from Jake Peavy, Edwin Jackson and Lucas Harrell, and that double-digit win total rises to five.
Mark Buehrle and John Danks both will surpass the 200 innings-pitched mark, meaning Buehrle has hit that important benchmark during all 10 seasons as a White Sox starter. And Freddy Garcia, when healthy, was as good as any American League fifth starter with 11 victories and four or five more slipping away through the bullpen.
This group was designed as the White Sox strong suit and carried the team during its 28-8 run from 9 1/2 games out in the AL Central to 3 1/2 games ahead. But this starting staff also struggled down the stretch, ending a stunning run of 18 starts without a victory on Saturday courtesy of Danks.
According to pitching coach Don Cooper, the recent funk can't be placed totally upon his starting crew.
"Wins are kind of arbitrary," Cooper said. "On any given day, you have to score runs, catch the ball and pitch well. Collectively, that's our problem.
"We are not playing good, those three areas have not been there for us. I'm not looking for one thing or one area. Collectively, we haven't been able to get it done."
Even better news for the White Sox is that this sturdy starting crew should be back in full next year. Barring a trade, the White Sox enter 2011 with Buehrle, Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson.
Peavy is the unknown quantity, only because the rehab from surgery to repair his detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right posterior shoulder can't be estimated like a Tommy John recovery. But White Sox general manager Ken Williams recently told MLB.com that Chris Sale, who has been dominant as the team's closer, will enter Spring Training as a starter and give Peavy time to fully recover at the outset or possibly give the White Sox a six-man rotation to open.
"As long as this kid stays healthy, he's nasty," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of his rookie southpaw.
Much like 2010, the White Sox rotation will enter with visions of grandeur. The South Siders will also hope to avoid the early and late pitfalls from this campaign.
"Going in, we thought we were one of the top three or four rotations in the league," Danks said. "That's not being cocky. Look at us one through five: there's the potential to be the best staff. With Jake's injury and us not pitching the way we thought we would, it's disappointing."
Lefty Danks pitching through discomfort
ANAHEIM -- Following his stellar eight-inning effort in Saturday night's 6-2 victory over the Angels, John Danks sported a large wrap covering his left groin area. It's a muscular issue bothering him for the last month, according to Danks, but the southpaw said it's more chronic than new.
"I've felt it since my days in Texas, and it flares up every year," Danks said. "It's not bad, and we're just trying to keep our eyes on it. But I obviously wouldn't go out and pitch if it really bothered me."
Saturday's victory gave Danks new single-season highs in victories at 14 and innings pitched at 207, leading the White Sox in both categories. While the groin issue returned this season, Danks said the circulation problem in his left index finger causing him to miss a start on July 22 last season basically has passed.
"It feels like I'm done with that for good," said Danks, who gave up chewing tobacco after this concern arose and has continued such a ban. "I've been on medicine for that, and I'm getting off of that soon."
Ozzie wants rookie Morel to run more
ANAHEIM -- Brent Morel had 25 stolen bases for Class A Winston-Salem during the 2009 season, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wants to see the third baseman run at the big league level.
Morel swiped second during Saturday's 6-2 victory, running on his own, and eventually scored an insurance run on Juan Pierre's sacrifice bunt.
"Early in his career, [Morel] was running, but in the last couple of months he shut it down," said Guillen. "Well, I want him to [run].
"He's going to help us with that kind of game a lot. He might not be a guy who is going to hit 40 home runs, 30 home runs, but he's maybe a guy who can steal 15 bases and play the little game."
There's no guarantee Morel will be the team's starting third baseman in 2011, not with Mark Teahen and Dayan Viciedo still in the picture. But Morel certainly is seriously in the mix and has received a long look with 11 starts since his September callup.
"That's the reason he's playing right now. I want to find out," Guillen said. "There is a difference from being a prospect trying to make the team [to] being in the big leagues and playing."
Third to first
Gavin Floyd had not yet heard the results on a MRI taken of his sore right shoulder. But White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen seemed inclined Sunday to shut him down and skip his final start Friday. ... The White Sox finished their season series with seven straight wins against the Angels. ... A.J. Pierzynski had two hits Sunday batting fourth for the second time this year and the 12th time of his career.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.