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White Sox's Konerko braces for emotions, thanks fans as he enters final weekend of his career

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CHICAGO — Paul Konerko wasn't quite sure what to expect this weekend as he prepared to wrap up one of the most successful careers by a Chicago White Sox player.

He figured the emotions will hit him. He's just not quite sure how he will handle them.

"There's a lot of little pieces to this," Konerko said. "I'm just trying to take it as it comes. I'm not trying to get ahead of myself. You know it's going to come. ... You just kind of go along with it."

Konerko decided to re-sign for one more season rather than retire a year ago. Now, as he wraps up a 16-year run in Chicago and a career that began with the Dodgers in 1997, he has "no doubt" it's time to put away the bat and glove.

He was out of the lineup Thursday as the White Sox opened a four-game series against Kansas City, but he expected to start the final three games of the season.

He will be honored by the team on Saturday. On Thursday, he thanked the fans in his own special way, in a similar vein as Gatorade's 90-second tribute to Yankees great Derek Jeter.

The White Sox released a 3-minute, 20-second video that begins in black and white with Konerko in his white uniform pants and black warmup jersey picking up scattered balls and tossing them in a duffel bag.

Then, it shows him penning a letter to fans, his dubbed over voice reading, "Dear Chicago, than you for allowing me to make so many memories here."

PHOTO: Chicago White Sox designated hitter Paul Konerko (14)  shakes hands with Detroit Tigers first base coach Omar Vizquel (31) while being honored before a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Konerko will be retiring after the season. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Chicago White Sox designated hitter Paul Konerko (14) shakes hands with Detroit Tigers first base coach Omar Vizquel (31) while being honored before a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Konerko will be retiring after the season. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Then it goes back and forth from the black-and-white video of Konerko picking up balls in the cage to a collage of full-color clips, starting with his first home run as a member of the White Sox.

It shows Konerko hitting a grand slam and pumping his fist in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series against Houston. It shows him catching the throw from Juan Uribe in Game 5, giving Chicago its first championship since 1917, and the rally in the city a few days later.

There are more than highlights, though. Konerko insisted on showing his struggles and the pain he experienced at times.

So there he is on the ground, clutching his right knee, in one clip and getting hit in the face by a pitch from the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija in another.

The video ends in black and white with Konerko saying as he finishes writing the letter, "I promise you they will always be with me."

He walks toward the door of the cage, the duffel bag slung over his shoulder, and turns off the lights on the way out. The video wraps with Konerko signing the letter with his initials "PK" and cuts to him walking out the door.

It was shot before a doubleheader against Minnesota on Sept. 13, and team spokesman Scott Reifert said it was certainly a "Paulie Production."

Konerko wrote the letter. He helped decide which clips to include and was in favor of using the black-and-white shots.

"What you see is 100 percent genuine," Reifert said.

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