- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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It will remain playoffs or bust for Dunn, who has one more season on the South Side to deliver the kind of production expected from a player who will be making $15 million in the upcoming season.
“It’s been like that from Day 1, but especially now,” Dunn said Saturday at SoxFest. “That’s the No. 1 thing. I can’t speak for Paul [Konerko], but I’m assuming that’s why Paul’s coming back, and that’s why I’m excited to get this thing started.”
Dunn has played over 1,800 games without making a visit to the postseason, a drought that leads all active players. He knows nobody will feel sorry for him, though, especially White Sox fans, who have been disappointed with the numbers from a player who has made $38 million over the last three years.
Dunn’s .197 batting average over the last three seasons is disappointing enough, but his combined .722 OPS has been far below what was expected of a player who arrived to his club with a career OPS over .900.
Dunn was asked if he feels he has one more chance in 2014 to get things right.
“That stuff doesn’t matter if you don’t make the playoffs,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to win the World Series, and if you don’t give yourself that chance …
“You’ve got to get in the playoffs. I don’t care how good or bad, it’s over and you didn’t accomplish the goal.”
Dunn has been keeping a low profile over the weekend. He was on the grounds of the Palmer House Hilton but didn’t attend his scheduled group seminar Saturday. No official reason was given for Dunn’s absence.
Perhaps part of his goal for 2014 is to refrain from extracurricular activities. Last offseason the movie production company he invests in filmed “Dallas Buyers Club” with Dunn getting a small role as a bartender.
Asked about his acting career, Dunn said he has no plans to appear in any movies in the near future but was proud of the six Academy Award nominations “Dallas Buyers Club” received.
“That’s pretty special, being the first movie,” Dunn said about the production company Truth Entertainment. “To get six Oscar nominations, that’s pretty cool. It’s been a fun little thing.”
Manager Robin Ventura said he saw the movie Friday night after his SoxFest commitments were completed, and while he gave the film high marks, he did admit that seeing Dunn on the big screen was a little distracting.
“It is shocking when you’re watching a movie and you’re getting immersed in a movie and you see Dunner behind the bar,” Ventura said. “All of a sudden it took my focus off the movie and all of a sudden you’re watching him act.”
Dunn was jokingly asked if he is disappointed that he wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award.
“It seems like that always happens,” Dunn said. “The Gold Glove, every year I get snubbed on that, so I’m used to it.”
Dunn can still be quick with the one-liners, and while he continues to be candid, he seemed clearly less upbeat Saturday than he has in the past. He flatly denied that the presence of first baseman Jose Abreu is an issue.
“Whatever to win, I don’t care,” he said. “The good news is there’s no egos, especially with me and Paul. We talked about it when he was making his decision [to return]. Whatever is going to help us win that night, I know he’s for it and I’m for it. That to me is a non-issue.”
Konerko leaned on Dunn heavily when trying to make his decision to return. Part of it could have been Konerko’s respect for Dunn as a friend and teammate, and the other part could have been that his return would cut into Dunn’s plate appearances.
“We had a bunch [of conversations],” Dunn said. “It made me feel pretty good that Paul really wanted to make sure we were all on the same page with it. I couldn’t express enough how much A, we need him back, and B, it’s not going to affect anything. If he’s hot, let him roll. Whatever helps us win, I’m in.”
As for his interaction with fans this weekend, Dunn spoke in terms of the team and not about the reaction to him individually.
“I think for the most part [it has been] excitement, but you have a season like that, it’s tough on everybody,” Dunn said. “As tough as everyone thinks it is on them, we lived it every single day, not to say they didn’t. That’s kind of what we do.
“You’ve got to remember how it felt, but you’ve also got to put it past and look forward and be excited on what we have, because the talent that we have is exciting. Everybody should be excited, if they’re not already.”