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To win a top prize like Halladay, Sox need more fan support
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko watches his grand slam against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning Tuesday.

 

Chicago White Sox's Jermaine Dye congratulates Paul Konerko after his grand slam against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning Tuesday.

 

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Published: 7/7/2009 10:11 PM | Updated: 7/7/2009 11:07 PM

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Paul Konerko had a career game Tuesday night, and the White Sox rolled over the reeling Cleveland Indians 10-6 at U.S. Cellular Field, winning for the 15th time in 21 games.

The Sox are back in second place in the AL Central, just 21/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers.

So where is all the excitement on the South Side?

Earlier in the day, even before Kenny Williams traded promising minor-league prospect Brandon Allen (.282, 8 HRs, 43 RBI in 62 games with Class AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte) to the Arizona Diamondbacks for relief pitcher Tony Pena (5-3, 4.24 ERA), the White Sox' general manager was asked about rumors he was interested in obtaining Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, who is apparently on the market.

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has a long-standing policy of only spending what comes in, and the White Sox had another disappointing crowd (23,758) at the Cell in the series opener against Cleveland.

The Sox are on pace to draw 2 million fans this season, their lowest gate since 2004.

Chalk it up to the tough economy, the Sox' uneven play over the first two months of the season or - more likely - both factors. And don't expect Williams to acquire a high-priced player like Halladay or anybody else this season.

"Well, if I'm being completely honest, money is more of an issue now," said Williams, who didn't have quite the same concern in late May when he nearly landed San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy. "We expected a little more support than we have gotten. It's a reflection upon the economy, what's kind of happened in regard to attendance.

"And I don't know if we've played consistent enough or been exciting enough for people to get behind us yet."

Maybe Konerko's monster night will help get Sox fans back on board.

Konerko launched 3 home runs - including a grand slam off Indians reliever Chris Perez in the sixth inning - and also established a career high with 7 RBI.

"It was one of those days where I didn't feel all that different going into it or anything like that, but I was just having good at-bats and making good decisions," said Konerko, who last hit 3 home runs in a game when he was with Class AAA Albuquerque in the Dodgers' system. "The grand slam, obviously bases

loaded, got ahead in the count, so you're feeling good there about getting a pitch to drive to the outfield.

"But other than that, it's a good time of year to do it. A couple of those balls don't go early in the year. That's what you wait for hopefully in the summer here."

If budget-wary fans are waiting for the White Sox to prove they are for real, Konerko offered up some good news.

"We're right there," said the Sox' captain. "We think our best baseball is ahead of us. So we've got to keep after it because I think we're getting better as we go here."

The White Sox would likely be better with a proven ace like Halladay, but Guillen is excited to get the 27-year-old Pena from the Diamondbacks.

"In the American League, if your bullpen responds well you are going to have a chance to win," Guillen said. "Hopefully, Pena comes out and does it. We need that spot. I don't know too much about him, but Kenny gave us a real good scouting report on him."

Scot Gregor's game tracker

White Sox 10, Indians 6

Tuesday's grade: A. Paul Konerko's name rarely came up in all-star talk, but the veteran first baseman's bat spoke loudly with 3 HR and 7 RBI.

Hat trick: It was Konerko's first 3-HR game in the major leagues, and the first by a Sox player since Jose Valentin did it on July 30, 2003, at Kansas City.

More Konerko: He's the first White Sox player to hit 3 HR in a game at new Comiskey/U.S. Cellular Field. Harold Baines hit 3 homers at old Comiskey Park on July 7, 1982. Konerko's 7 RBI are the most in a game since Tadahito Iguchi drove in the same amount on June 25, 2006, vs. Houston.

Feeling grand: Konerko has 8 grand slams with the White Sox, 2 behind all-time leader Robin Ventura.