GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While Paul Konerko soaked in some first-day adoration Thursday at the Chicago White Sox's spring training facility, Adam Dunn spoke about the upcoming season Thursday with far less fanfare.
The embattled slugger, whose three seasons of struggles have sparked venom among the team’s faithful, is in the final year of a four-year, $56 million contract that hasn’t yielded the club nearly as much production as was expected.
Yet in order to deliver in the final season of the contract, Dunn knows that getting back on track won't happen in one or two at-bats or even a single week of games.
“It’s the same as I’ve been for the past three years; nothing’s changed,” Dunn said. “I still feel the same way I did from Day 1 when I stepped on the field. I’m going to do everything I can to get ready for Opening Day and have a good year.”
Dunn and Konerko share a tight relationship, but when the first question presented to Dunn was about Konerko’s pending departure he hesitated and said he wasn’t prepared to answer. Asked again later, Dunn ribbed his pal.
“I’m going to enjoy every last second of (his final season), obviously his dry humor and that’s really about it,” Dunn said. “I’m not going to miss being in the cage with him. I won’t miss that. I won’t miss sitting, talking, an hour after batting practice about how he stinks. He can say it’s his last year. I’m going to start that rumor, I’m not going to let that one go yet.”
Dunn, who hadn’t talked about Abreu much this offseason said Thursday that he hopes to be a mentor to the first-year player, along with Konerko.
“Everything happened so fast when (I was young), and the only thing I take from that is how the older guys treated me coming up,” Dunn said. “Especially with Abreu, not speaking English, I can only imagine coming over new team and all those expectations. As comfortable as I can make him and Paul can make him, we will to make sure he realizes he fits in and doesn’t try to do too much.”
When it comes to the upcoming season, Dunn thinks the entire team will benefit from the entire team not gripping the bat so tight, including himself.
“When things start out bad, so many guys not doing their job, human nature was to try harder, try harder,” Dunn said. “When you try harder things sputter and you get that result. It’s a lot easier when you’re out there having fun, relaxed, not looking up at the scoreboard every two seconds to see what your batting average is. If people can buy into that 'it’s baseball.' We’re not building rockets for NASA, it’s baseball.”
For now, the White Sox have that relaxed feel about them again, but it was only the first day of full-squad workouts.
Before taking the field, Dunn was asked one more time about Konerko, and this time he spoke from the heart.
“He’s done it all,” Dunn said. “A lot of people can (say) this or that, but when you have a guy who actually won a World Series and had such a good career, it’s easier to stand in front of some things and show how it’s done. He’s a special guy.”