HOUSTON -- Paul Konerko has been to Minute Maid Park since the White Sox finished off a World Series sweep of the Astros in 2005, taking part in exhibition games at the end of Spring Training in 2012.
But this particular visit from Friday through Monday marks the first regular-season matchup in Houston between the two teams since Konerko caught Juan Uribe's throw on Orlando Palmeiro's grounder to close out Game 4. Konerko stands as the last World Series holdover from either '05 roster.
The eight years of time certainly haven't lessened the memories in Konerko's mind.
"It all happened so fast. I don't remember too much about the games," said Konerko, who smiled and pointed to the spot in the visitors' clubhouse where former Journey lead singer Steve Perry stood in the postgame celebration. "You remember some of the bigger moments. [Geoff] Blum's home run in Game 3, the last out you remember, [Jermaine Dye's] hit in the last game.
"I just remember getting back to the hotel and they had a party going on. I remember most of the guys being so tired, just going to bed around 3 or 4 in the morning. It was nice to win, but it was also nice that the season was over. We had been grinding for a long time. It was a great feeling."
Along with being part of the first White Sox championship in 88 years, Konerko and his wife, Jennifer, had become parents for the first time about eight days before the clinching game. Konerko didn't know she was able to get to that final victory, though, until he saw Jennifer on the field during the championship festivities.
"Definitely a surreal thing," Konerko said. "You see celebrations and World Series things growing up. Then you are in the middle of one. You don't know what to make of it because you won the whole thing. It was definitely cool and it's still the highlight of my career."
Ventura honored to be named All-Star coach
HOUSTON -- Robin Ventura took part in the All-Star Game as a player for the White Sox in 1992 and then with the Yankees in 2002. But he's equally as honored to be selected by Tigers manager Jim Leyland as part of the American League coaching staff for the 2013 Midsummer Classic.
The contest will take place on July 16 at Citi Field, home of the Mets, for whom Ventura played for three seasons.
"Having played there, it makes it nice," Ventura said. "But it's always an honor any time you get asked to do anything with the All-Star Game. It's one of those you're willing to do anything."
Ventura was approached "a while ago" to join Leyland's staff and is willing to do whatever is needed by the AL manager. Ventura didn't think twice about accepting the selection, as opposed to getting a four-day break.
"There's an obligation if you're asked to do it," Ventura said. "I think as a player, guys should play in that. It's important for the game. Any time you're asked to do it, you should honor it."
Leyland also named Blue Jays manager John Gibbons to his All-Star staff.
Viciedo trying to kick way out of hitting slump
HOUSTON -- It's easy to classify Dayan Viciedo's offensive struggles, featured in a 4-for-46 slump prior to Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays, as the young hitter trying to pull the ball too much.
But changing that pattern isn't always as simple as it sounds for the aggressive left fielder. There's no question Viciedo is aware of the problem, mentioned by manager Robin Ventura, and trying to adjust. He had two singles up the middle during Tuesday night's 7-5 loss in 10 innings and made two outs going the other way.
"The key is to hit the ball middle the other way, hit the ball in the gaps. That's what I'm concentrating on right now," Viciedo said through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "It's more a mental thing.
"Sometimes you lose track, and it's a matter of challenging yourself to ask yourself to stay in the gaps and hit the ball the other way. It's something that can definitely be fixed."
A leg kick was put into Viciedo's swing during Spring Training to help him focus on staying back more at the plate and being able to use the whole field. Viciedo has tried to employ that swing maneuver, but he has not put it into action as frequently as he would like.
"At times, I don't even realize I'm not using it," Viciedo said. "I'm not consistent with it, but it's a matter of feeling good and applying all that into my swing. But I'm trying it."
Viciedo finished 0-for-4 Friday.
Beckham fills leadoff spot in De Aza's absence
HOUSTON -- The three career games and 11 at-bats for Gordon Beckham as the White Sox leadoff hitter increased in Friday's series opener against the Astros.
Alejandro De Aza was scratched from the starting lineup because of a stomach ailment after he came in feeling a little bit of pain, according to White Sox manager Robin Ventura, and was sent by head athletic trainer Herm Schneider to a local hospital to be examined.
"There's nothing major they said going on," said Ventura. "I don't know what it is. I just know he wouldn't be able to start tonight."
Beckham entered Friday 10-for-32 with five runs scored over nine games since his return from the disabled list. The White Sox second baseman won't change his approach moving from the last spot of the order to the top spot.
"Just try to put the barrel on the ball and hope that it finds a spot where somebody is not playing," Beckham said. "That's kind of what I've been trying to do. It's going to be even more so that way in the leadoff spot.
"When you hit leadoff, there's nowhere to hide. You gotta be ready to go at the start of the game. You have to have that mentality that whole game. You are going to get up there four times if not five times. You have to be ready to have good at-bats."
Although he missed time from April 10 to June 2 after fracturing the hamate bone in his left hand, Beckham has maintained the good feeling at the plate present in Spring Training and early April. There's some still soreness in the hand as part of Beckham's return.
"It's kind of like Spring Training for me, except I'm not getting a day off in between every start and I'm playing nine innings and 16 innings sometimes," Beckham said. "There's definitely been some residual soreness from that stuff. But my body feels fine."
Beckham went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in Friday's 2-1 loss.
Third to first
• Ventura stayed up for the entire Blackhawks triple-overtime thriller over the Bruins on Wednesday night and had more praise Friday for their hard-fought Game 1 victory in pursuit of the Stanley Cup title.
"You start looking at games and how it goes and that was probably one of the better hockey games as far as intensity and what's on the line," Ventura said. "To get it from the guys they got it, it's probably a good sign for them to get other guys in the action. Just a great win, really."
The White Sox were able to watch Wednesday night's contest when their game against the Blue Jays was postponed early in the day because of the forecast of heavy rain and inclement weather.
• Dylan Axelrod, who originally was scheduled to start Sunday against Houston, will get a full week off before taking the mound in Tuesday's series opener at Target Field.
"It's not a demotion," said Ventura of Axelrod, who gave up six runs on eight hits over four innings in Monday's fog-laden game against the Blue Jays. "It's more giving him an extra day of rest to get his strength back."
• Outfielder Dewayne Wise, who has been on the disabled list since June 2 (retroactive to May 30) with a strained right hamstring, has been assigned to Triple-A Charlotte on a rehab assignment.
• Jesse Crain (Houston), John and Jordan Danks (Austin) and Adam Dunn (The Woodlands) all reside in Texas. Jeff Keppinger (2011) and Matt Lindstrom (2010) played for the Astros.
• The White Sox will be represented at the College World Series by Oregon State's Danny Hayes and Louisville's Adam Engel. Hayes, a first baseman/outfielder, was selected by the White Sox in the 13th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Engel, an outfielder, was taken by the White Sox in the 19th round.