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White Sox eager to put season behind and start on plan for next year

CLEVELAND (MCT) — The 2013 season unofficially began Tuesday night for the White Sox, who embarked on the planning stages after their elimination from the American League Central race.

“It’s already starting, now that you can focus on something else,” manager Robin Ventura said before the Sox blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth and lost, 4-3, in 12 innings on Jason Donald’s two-out single off Nate Jones.

Jake Peavy, in perhaps his last start with the Sox, had a one-hitter entering the ninth before Michael Brantley singled and pinch hitter Travis Hafner followed with a two-run home run.

The Sox’s first move could be the long-anticipated shift of general manager Ken Williams to president, with assistant GM Rick Hahn taking over Williams’ duties. The change is expected to be seamless, but the Sox have other, more pressing matters to address soon.

First baseman Paul Konerko will undergo surgery to remove debris from his left wrist Thursday at Rush University Medical Center.

Konerko insisted the discomfort didn’t affect his batting average, which has dropped from .399 on May 27 to .299 entering Wednesday night’s season finale.

“There was a span there for games after that, it didn’t feel well,” said Konerko, who missed three games in early June to have the particle flushed from his joint and felt soreness for about a week after the procedure. “Nothing worth writing home about.”

Organizational meetings in early November will allow Ventura and bench coach Mark Parent to do more than acclimate themselves to a new staff and players, as they did last fall when they joined the organization.

At those meetings, the Sox were able to exchange ideas on how to stop opponents’ running games, and they’ve cut opponents’ steals by 31 while increasing their total by 26 over last year.

“It was astounding to me that certain things weren’t really being addressed,” Parent said. “They were easy fixes. It just takes a little bit (of work).”

The Sox relied heavily on home runs this season, and it cost them during a 2-10 stretch in late September that knocked them out of first place for good. Ventura said the Sox’s reliance on power could change but was vague in providing details.

Pitcher Chris Sale plans to alter his offseason program in hopes of finishing stronger than he did in his first season as a starter. Sale hopes to add about 10 pounds to his 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame but will delay his throwing program after pitching 192 innings.

“I feel like if I was a little stronger, heavier, it might be a little easier to get through this,” said Sale, who led the Sox with 17 wins. “Maybe even be able to throw more. Overall, it was a fun season, but I came up short late.”

Backup catcher Tyler Flowers is tentatively scheduled to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic to get more at-bats in preparation for what he hopes is a starting role if A.J. Pierzynski departs for free agency.

Hector Santiago plans to pitch for Carolina in the Puerto Rico League in hopes of improving his chances to join the rotation. His development could be important, especially because the Sox aren’t sure how many innings John Danks can give them once he returns from left shoulder surgery.

“I believe (Johan) Santana had the same surgery (at the end of 2010), and he wasn’t able to compete (in 2011),” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “We are going to have to stay on top of that and keep an eye on.”

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