- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- With offensive production like this, expect Adam Dunn to be mentioned among some serious trade talk.
Although the way the Chicago White Sox’s reemerging slugger sees it, with more offense like this, why not think big? Dunn suggested team still might have a chance to make a move at the division leaders despite a 34-48 record and a double-digit deficit in the American League Central.
“I’m not writing this year off,” Dunn said after winning Thursday’s game on a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. “I don’t know what everyone else is saying or thinking, but I’m not writing this year off yet. We’re capable of running off some significant wins in a row. Hopefully, this is the start of something good.”
Since his debut on June 3, Puig entered play Thursday batting .440 with a 1.209 OPS, eight home runs, 18 RBIs and 22 runs.
Dunn doesn’t have the batting average or OPS to match Puig since then, entering Thursday with marks of .274 and 1.023 respectively, but he does have 11 home runs, 28 RBIs and 19 runs since June 3.
The difference is that Puig has breathed life into a talented Dodgers team that has gone 17-11 since his debut in a watered-down National League West. Since that same June 3 date, the White Sox have gone 10-18 with a banged-up club that continues to underachieve.
The catalyst creates the spark, and in Dunn’s case, there hasn’t been enough kindling around for things to catch fire.
Manager Robin Ventura said Dunn’s past month is better than what the veteran slugger did last season when he recovered from a disastrous 2011 season to hit 41 home runs and collect 96 RBIs. Paring his run down even further, over the past 23 games, Dunn is batting .333 (27-for-81) with three doubles, 10 home runs and 26 RBIs.
Dunn had three more hits Thursday, one into the Orioles’ infield shift on the right side, with the other two, including the home run, going to the left-field side of second base.
“The stretch that he’s on, [against] lefty or righty [pitchers], it’s solid contact,” Ventura said. “Earlier in the game with a guy on third and the infields in, he [drives] that guy in going the other way. Once he’s hitting the ball the other way, he’s dangerous. He’s dangerous anytime he goes up there, but just the quality of the at-bats is great to see. He’s walking, not striking out quite as much. Everybody’s going to strike out, but he’s putting it in play with some authority.”
In the 30 games Dunn has played since the start of June, Dunn has struck out 27 times. In May alone, he struck out 37 times and in April he went down on strikes 32 times in just 24 games.
“It’s probably a little bit of everything,” Dunn said about his resurgence. “The things we’ve been working on since spring training are just kind of paying off now. Like I said from day one, I’ve been feeling pretty good all year, I just wasn’t getting any results. It seems like now I’m getting a little better pitches and putting some good wood on it.”
The free-agent signing before the 2011 season, that most pundits have already written off as one of baseball’s worst deals, could ultimately end up being productive for the White Sox, especially if they can move him for a top-level prospect who can deliver down the road.
And even if the White Sox don’t trade Dunn by the July 31 non-waiver deadline, there is always the chance they can get him through trade waivers and deal him before the end of August. A trade idea that seemed unfathomable just a month ago could become a reality. Dunn still has one more year left on his four-year deal and is in line to make $15 million in 2014.
Even on a day when a Dunn fielding error helped the Orioles tie the game in the eighth inning, he remained level-headed enough to give the White Sox a victory just one inning later.
“When you’re getting results, your confidence is high,” Dunn said. “I try to keep an even keel, going good, going bad. I know how this game is. Just when you think everything is going right, it slaps you right in the face. [Hitting coach] Jeff [Manto] and I will continue to do what we’ve been doing since day one and hopefully we can maintain it.”