'Put me in coach!' Dunn pitches ninth

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
11:49
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Like a blast from the air conditioner at the end of a stiflingly hot day, Adam Dunn supplied literal and figurative relief for the White Sox late Tuesday night.

With Chicago trailing by double digits for the second time in three games, Dunn emerged from the dugout to pitch the ninth inning. It not only caught what was left of a modest crowd by surprise, but also caused the visiting Texas Rangers to do a double take as well.

“I thought it was the lefty [Eric Surkamp] that pitched that inning before,” the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre said.

[+] EnlargeAdam Dunn
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images"I haven't laughed on a baseball field like that in a long time," Adam Eaton said of Adam Dunn's turn on the mound.
Looking at Dunn’s massive physique standing atop the mound, another thought struck the Rangers veteran.

“You know, Adam Dunn is up there [and] if he hits somebody, we can't charge [the mound] today,” said Beltre, who was almost hit by a Dunn pitch in the low 80 mph range before he worked a walk. “He was throwing power sinkers. Obviously it was too nasty for J.P. [Arencibia].”

Dunn gave up only a run, on a single by Adam Rosales, but he got Elvis Andrus to ground out, Arencibia to pop out and Rougned Odor to fly out for his three outs. The crowd roared. Catcher Adrian Nieto waited at the foul line to shake Dunn’s hand.

“He's been begging for that for a while,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You've got to give the fans what they want.”

What they would have wanted was a victory, but Ventura’s point was taken. In that situation, having Dunn pitch ended up being the best way to end a horrible day in the field.

“I haven’t laughed on a baseball field like that in a long time, ever since I was probably kicking dandelions, in my early teens,” Adam Eaton said. “It’s fun; it takes you back to the glory days and he had good sink, that’s all I can say. He was 80 mph but he had really good sink, maybe from throwing the football around all those times at Texas. That’s the only bright part for sure.”

It even coaxed a smile from starter John Danks, who was crushed for nine runs on eight hits and five walks in 4⅔ innings.

“I loved seeing Adam out there,” Danks said. “Obviously it’s a pretty crappy situation to have him out there, but most importantly it saved an arm in the bullpen.

“After a game like this, hopefully it will send guys home with something to laugh about because the job I did to start the game, and the tone I set, didn’t really have us in the direction of giving us anything to laugh about. Hopefully it helps us put it behind us faster and we get ’em tomorrow, win the series.”

Dunn, who wasn’t around afterward to talk about it, obviously knew that a power sinker, even in the 80 mph range, had a chance at success. Dunn topped out at 83 mph on the radar gun.

“Honestly, for me, it's the worst at-bat in baseball,” Arencibia said. “It's a lose-lose situation. Your adrenaline is at zero and you're just trying to be as locked in as possible, and you look up there and there's Adam Dunn, you know, a guy that I've watched my whole life growing up, hitting homers and looking up to ... and now I'm facing him. He threw me an 80 mph power sinker and almost broke my bat in half.”

In the oddest turn of events of all, Dunn’s appearance on the mound actually seemed to spark a little jealousy from the team that ended up winning the game 16-0, especially after Beltre was told Dunn had been lobbying to pitch for years.

“Oh yeah? He was wanting to pitch?” Beltre said. “That's always nice. I've wanted to pitch, too. I mean, every time I ask, I never get the chance, but that was nice he got to do it.”

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
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OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208