NEW YORK -- Third-base coach Joe McEwing spent time working with Marcus Semien during Spring Training, but they were focused on improving the young man's defensive game at shortstop.
"We worked on attacking the ball and not staying back," said McEwing of the defensive improvements made by Semien. "He would stay back on the ball. He'd get flat-footed and he wouldn't play through balls, and then a lot of balls would come up and take some bad hops on him.
"At third, it was a lot smoother because there was no reaction time. Balls were hit and he just reacted. He didn't have that long pause to make a decision. He worked his butt off and I'm so happy for him."
Semien also worked in-season at third base, playing 23 games there between Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham. Third base is where Semien made his big league debut on Wednesday and could be his way to the Majors in '14.
"When this situation arose, when he got his call, he could go out and help us in any possible way," McEwing said. "The thing I really enjoyed was the questions he was asking. He wanted to learn. He wanted to get better. It's really refreshing to see."
Konerko, Dunn caught in retirement spin cycle
NEW YORK -- It took one simple word for Paul Konerko to address whether he had decided to come back for an 18th big league season in 2014 when asked the question prior to Wednesday's series finale at Yankee Stadium.
"No," Konerko said.
That answer was not surprising. Even with USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweeting earlier in the day that Konerko is telling friends that he definitely wants to return to the White Sox next season and feels he can be productive, Konerko has stated since Spring Training that he would address his future at the proper time.
With 24 games remaining after Wednesday, and even with the White Sox well out of contention, Sept. 4 was not the proper time. Konerko didn't even want to go as far as answering whether the team's 2013 struggles would affect his decision, a question posed to him a couple of weeks back.
"When the time comes when I hash it all out, we'll find out. But it's not now," Konerko said. "If you're worrying about the rest of this season, then you'll worry about that later on."
Konerko, 37, entered Wednesday hitting .244 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs. After battling back from a lower back strain, Konerko has hit safely in 18 of his last 26 games. He's a different hitter, according to manager Robin Ventura, but he still can be a productive one.
"He doesn't have as much power as he used to have," said Ventura. "Again, he's gotten better as of late as far as his approach and what he wants to do when he goes to the plate. He's better off right now than he was a month ago."
Designated hitter Adam Dunn truly believes Konerko will return to the White Sox in 2014, with Konerko's three-year, $37.5 million extension ending after 2013. Dunn has gone on record with that thought during a recent SiriusXM interview.
It was Dunn's turn on the retirement cycle Tuesday, when a Ken Rosenthal story on FoxSports.com quoted Dunn as stating that he will walk away from the game if he's not having fun. The crux of that story centers on comments Dunn has made previously, in that he won't play just for money or just for stats.
Dunn wants to win. So frustration in the unexpected '13 debacle could be a reason for Dunn's talk about retirement.
"Apparently everybody is retiring or some people aren't retiring," said a smiling Ventura. "When you're frustrated, that probably comes up a lot, but I don't see it happening. I don't see Dunner going anywhere. Those are just things you talk about. He's probably at a point in his career where you can bring the subject up about when is the right time, when isn't, but I fully expect him to be in Spring Training with us.
"It's getting through the rest of the year and then you can evaluate that," added Ventura of Konerko's decision. "It's going to be more of how he gets through this year and what he's feeling for him to make up his own mind."
Players not interested in giving up on 2014
NEW YORK -- If the 2014 season is considered part of the White Sox reshaping process, where development might supersede winning as the overriding priority, then the message hasn't made its way to White Sox players. They certainly don't view next year as a lost campaign after playing through the trials and tribulations of this season.
"I'm not coming into next year saying, 'This is a rebuilding year.' .... That's not why you work out all offseason," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "If you are looking at it just to be like this is going to be one of those years where it doesn't work out, I don't think you put enough into it.
"So, you go in hoping to have everything and if you fall short, you fall short. You definitely don't prepare for next season or go in to next season with any sort of doubt as to what you can do.
"The sky is the limit in terms of what I think. Maybe that's stupid. Maybe that's not looking around and seeing what you got. But that's why you can't win the division in the offseason. You have to go and play. If we have enough guys that play the game the right way, that want to win, that really genuinely want to win, we'll be OK."
Boston played as poorly as any team in baseball at the end of '12. Now, they are headed toward an American League East title. With the right moves and right focus, as Beckham said, change can happen quickly.
"Going back a year ago right now, it would have seemed impossible to be where we're at right now," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "If that can happen, anything can happen. That's all I think about is how it didn't seem like this would even be possible to have the season go like it has."
Third to first
• Rookie reliever Daniel Webb made the call to his parents he always wanted to make on Tuesday: He told them that he was going to the Majors as a September callup. Then, Webb got to warm up in Yankee Stadium during a game in which Mariano Rivera picked up his 40th save.
"It was real cool seeing him come out and [hearing] 'Enter Sandman.' Something I'll always remember -- my first game seeing Rivera with the save," Webb said. "When the phone rang in the bullpen last night and I got up to throw, it was an adrenaline rush and it felt good, being in Yankee Stadium. It was kind of cool.
"But it's still baseball no matter where you are or who you are playing against. After the jitters got done, I calmed myself down and told myself it's the same game."
• Ramon Troncoso threw a simulated game of close to 40 pitches on Wednesday and believes he is getting closer to a big league return. The right-hander has been out of action since Aug. 17 because of pericarditis, which is inflammation of the tissue around the heart.
The next step for Troncoso could be pitching in a game.
"It feels good. It feels normal. Everything was fine," Troncoso said. "I threw like two or three bullpens before today, and everything was fine."
"I'm sure he knows a little bit more than everybody else about how he's feeling and what it was like before," Ventura said. "He takes the lead with as far as how he's feeling but if he can pitch, we'll have him back in there."
• Avisail Garcia (.354, two homers, 11 RBIs) received votes for the American League Rookie of the Month Award in August, won by Texas pitcher Martin Perez. Addison Reed (1.56 ERA, 10 saves, 15 games) was in the running for Delivery Man of the Month for August, an honor that went to Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel.
• Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the colorful television voice of the White Sox, celebrated his 72nd birthday on Wednesday.
• Chris Sale needs one strikeout to join Gary Peters (215 in 1967 and 205 in 1964) and Wilbur Wood (210 in 1971) as the only lefties in White Sox history to put up 200 or more strikeouts in a season.