When Paul Konerko visited Camelback Ranch on Wednesday, the former White Sox captain declared the rebuilding club to have "a different vibe" than in years past.
Konerko, who remains busy in retirement keeping up with the schedules of his three children, said he thinks the Sox have a "pretty good nucleus" to begin their rebuild, a process he will watch with interest.
"It’s probably the smart path," Konerko said. "Once it gets really good, it’s probably going to be really good for a while. I’m excited to see how it’s going to play out this year.
"In my whole time being here, other than maybe my first year, they haven’t done this. It’s pretty interesting."
When the Sox first acquired Konerko from the Reds before the 1999 season, the then-23-year-old joined a young group of players that included Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee, ages 25 and 23 at the time, among other youngsters. Konerko remembered it as a fun season that was "like a college team in a lot of ways," he said.
Photos of the former White Sox first baseman, who retired following the 2014 season.
"You feel comfortable because everywhere you look, you see somebody like yourself, a lot of people in the same mode," Konerko said. "We had guys that would go out together and have dinner together. … The trick is going to be as they keep getting better and better, there will be things pulling away at keeping that together.
"More money guys are making. Guys get married, have kids, all that kind of stuff, and they start to spread out. Hopefully the idea is to build that core and those guys show up each day for each other because it has been built that way. The wins are just the byproduct."
The Sox haven’t had a captain since Konerko retired following the 2014 season, and they are heavier on young talent than veteran leaders this year. But Konerko believes the leaders will emerge down the line.
"There are guys on this team I’m sure that are probably in the makings of being great leaders," Konerko said. "You can’t fast-forward time. Some of the stuff takes time and development and age."