Mark Townsend

Status check: Are the White Sox and Konerko saying goodbye?

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As has often been the case during this baseball offseason, a question has changed just when we thought we had the answer to another one.

The latest instance of this involves the Chicago White Sox, GM Kenny Williams — whose entire tenure could be summed up by the opening sentence — and their free agent first baseman, Paul Konerko(notes).

Things were looking positive for the past week — and recently as a couple of hours ago — despite serious attempts from teams like the Baltimore Orioles to pry Konerko away and concerns over the White Sox payroll after dealing out a big contract to Adam Dunn(notes).

Those concerns were quieted by a report that Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf had set aside money specifically for Konerko, a long known favorite of his. And by news that Dunn and newly re-signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski(notes) had deferred to be used for Konerko.

It was assumed by most at that time it was only a matter of days, maybe even hours, before a deal would be announced.

But hen came a series of tweets from Chicago Sun-Times baseball writer Joe Cowley (@cst_sox) out of baseball's winter meetings in Florida on Tuesday afternoon:

"Big changes in PK talks."

"KW felt like it was almost done, but now it fell apart. They are meeting with reps for other options tonight. 'The train keeps moving.'"

"Sox will also now look to add a reliever. The PK ship is now sailing."

"Ship is sailing" was also used to describe the departure of reliever of J.J. Putz(notes) on Monday, so it was natural for White Sox fans to be concerned hearing that phrase again just 24 hours later.

Williams appeared on the set of MLB Network's Hot Stove shortly after Cowley's tweets and attempted to clarify to situation.

"I didn't say we were done," Williams said. "I don't want for this to come across as any amount of disrespect at all because Paul Konerko is a first class human, a first class player, all of the above. I walk a fine because respectfully I'm trying to let them go through their process, but at the same time we don't want to miss out on what we have next on the board because it's a significant piece we have to fill.

"I've got to get serious with them. That's all I've said. Until there's someone occupying the position it's still open."

As Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune pointed out in a tweet, Williams and the Sox are clearly pushing Konerko to speed up his decision. Van Dyck also suggests the Texas Rangers as the best alternative for Paulie at this time. But also adds "who knows whats really going on..."

All I know for sure is the next 24-48 hours are going to be nerve-wracking for Sox fans and critical for Williams. Will his strategy pay off or push Konerko away? My gut says he still ends up on the South Side, but again, as soon as we think we know that answer, the question will likely change one more time.

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