Sox game postponed because of storms.
They’re paid the big bucks to hit the big homers, drive in the big runs and put the fear of God into opposing pitchers.
Or at least that’s usually the job description for the heart of a baseball team’s batting order.
This year, however, the White Sox trio of Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome has failed to do that, according to the team captain.
“In the American League, you got to have a threat to go deep and hit some home runs, and being in the middle of the lineup, there’s no question that there are three or four of us there,” Konerko said.
“We have to swing the bats to be dangerous. (It) doesn’t mean you have to hit them all the time; you just got to be dangerous and looking like we can. That’s something we probably haven’t done enough of this year.”
Heading into Thursday’s game against Boston -- which was postponed because of rain and is to be made up today as part of a day-night doubleheader -- Dye, Konerko and Thome had mirrored the Sox’s season of underachieving. They have hit a combined 70 homers and driven in 198 runs. At that pace, they would hit 90 homers and drive in 255 runs in 162 games.
That’s a far cry from their combined 2006 totals of 121 homers and 342 RBI, and neither Dye, Konerko nor Thome is likely to reach his 2006 batting average -- .315, .313 and .288, respectively.
“I’ve always said, you look at a baseball card, it’s going to be different every year,” Thome said. “Every year is different. Some years, you have career years; some years, you don’t have or meet up to your expectations or what others put on you. ...
“The middle of your lineup kind of sets the stage, they set everything up, and fortunately, we have that group coming back. I think you look at the track record, hopefully we will all bounce back. I think that’s something, pride-wise, you want to do.”
The Sox are confident those three will be better next year. That’s why they invested $22 million for two more years with Dye. That’s why Konerko and Thome are to make a combined $26 million in 2008.
And that’s why, most important, general manager Ken Williams said the Sox will be a contender again in 2008.
“I think the one thing is, we need those guys to play better,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of his team. “Erase this year. You see the talent we’ve got there. If you put that team we put out there this year and you said that team would struggle the way we did this year, you’re not going to believe it.
“I look at the lineup every day and say, ‘Wow, this team did it before.’ ”
Thome insists the Sox are still working toward respectability in the form of a .500 mark this year instead of just erasing it and focusing on 2008.
They would have to play nearly .700 baseball the rest of the way to reach even, but with the heart of the order beginning to swing hotter bats and perhaps a little bit of that fear factor back, the designated hitter has faith.
“It’s big because, let’s face it, if you get to .500, you’re playing well,” Thome said. “I think that can be a big boost for us, if we can get to that point going into the winter saying, ‘Look, this is what we overcame, this is what we battled to get,’ that would be a big accomplishment.
“We obviously got the talent here; it’s just a matter of staying healthy and making sure next year we do that as a group.”
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