CHICAGO -- Monday's visitation and Tuesday's funeral mass for Kevin Hickey allowed the White Sox to mourn the loss of their good friend and colleague. They also celebrated the incredible life of the team's pregame instructor since 2004, who passed away at the age of 56.
"Yeah, you know the personality of him and what he does, but everyone still misses him," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "That's just one of the things you don't really get over in your day-to-day stuff. You still play the game, but you're used to hearing and seeing certain things and it's just not there and I think that because of the way it happened, that makes it really hard. It was very unexpected and sad."
Hickey had remained unresponsive in the intensive care unit at Rush University Medical Center after being moved to Chicago from Dallas in early April. Hickey initially was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas on April 5 after missing the team's morning workout prior to Opening Day."For us, it's been kind of surreal the last month because although we knew his condition and we knew that that might happen, until it actually goes down and you are at a funeral, it doesn't really make sense," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "It kind of still doesn't. But I know Kevin, he would, Hick would be saying go out there tonight and get after it, so that's what we are doing."
Hickey's tragic loss helps put things in perspective for the White Sox as individuals and as an organization.
"Everybody really appreciates things a little bit more, probably hug a few more people and tell them what they really think because you just never know," said Ventura. "It's sad how it happened and how quick it happened. It's tough. I don't know how you put it to the side, but everybody's been able to put it to the side while you play.
"It's just when you don't play, there's reminders all the time when we're walking through our clubhouse and doing things he would normally do or say that you think about him. Those are the toughest parts, when you're actually not playing the game."
There was a pregame moment of silence for Hickey on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field, followed by a slide show with pictures of his life.
Konerko returns to action at first base
CHICAGO -- The area around Paul Konerko's left eye still looked discolored when he talked to the media on Tuesday afternoon. But the swelling had gone down enough after being hit by a Jeff Samardzija split-finger in the third inning of Friday's 3-2 victory over the Cubs to allow the White Sox captain to return to action.
"I don't really even sense anything being different until I look in the mirror," said Konerko, who said he didn't feel great at the plate during Tuesday's 9-2 loss to the Twins, but still had two hits and an RBI. "I would say it's all back, other than what you see. There's a little soreness in it, but I can see out of it. So you know it's good to go."
Konerko doesn't plan to wear any protective flap on the left side of his helmet for the injured eye, and added that he didn't have to go through any eye tests before being cleared to return. Those tests basically took place after he was hit Friday to ensure there was no vision damage.
Having been hit in the face four or five times during his professional career, by Konerko's estimation, the nails-tough first baseman plans to just put the moment behind him.
"You just go back out there and play," Konerko said. "It can happen at any time. It's just part of the game."
"Even Sunday it started to go down enough for him to see," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't know if he could have played the field but in an emergency he probably could have pinch-hit. He's looking fine now so get him back out there."
Lingering back soreness slowing Morel
CHICAGO -- The season-long slump endured by Brent Morel, leaving him with a .177 average and just two extra-base hits, clearly goes beyond shortcomings at the plate. Morel has been bothered by back soreness since Spring Training.
"Yeah, it started a little bit in Spring Training," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Morel's struggles. "You saw his swing kind of slow down and then you could see it going that way.
"Then it seemed like he was doing OK and you could see it when he'd get in the cage every once in a while. In Cleveland, we noticed it again so we just got to get a handle on it."
Morel was placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 18 with a lumbar back strain, but an MRI on May 10 showed a bulging disk.Ventura said that Morel won't lose his starting job to injury, but neither Morel nor Ventura know whether he will be able to return immediately after his DL stint. Morel had planned to talk with White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider on Tuesday about his specific rehab plan.
Third to first
The White Sox will host members of the Chicago Police Department at Wednesday's game and honor them for their exceptional service during the recent NATO Summit.Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, accompanied by Chicago police officers, will represent the department's 12,500 members, as the White Sox present a special tribute to the Chicago Police Department during the seventh inning of the game. The White Sox also will host the police officers on the field during batting practice before the game.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked the White Sox to join the city in honoring the outstanding work of these men and women. To recognize their service, the White Sox announced all sworn members of the Chicago Police Department will be offered two complimentary tickets to one of 10 select White Sox games. Details on how tickets can be redeemed will be communicated directly to the officers through the Chicago Police Department. White Sox Minor League outfield instructor Daryl Boston served as the team's first-base coach during Tuesday's 9-2 loss to the Twins and will do so again on Wednesday. Harold Baines is attending his daughter's graduation. Class A Kannapolis pitcher Blair Walters was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for May 14-20. He went 1-0 with nine strikeouts in seven innings. The White Sox are 5-14 against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field since 2010. Dayan Viciedo's seven-game hitting streak came to an end.