CHICAGO – Just because Adam Dunn was turned into a well-paid spectator over the past two games, didn’t mean he wasn’t doing his homework.
Dunn, who was back in the lineup Thursday at designated hitter and batting seventh, said the downtime revved up his appreciation for the game ever so slightly. He also went back in the archive much deeper than he’s ever gone before.
“Yesterday I’m watching kind of old tapes that I’d never had watched ever in my life and just kind of remember how it felt to square some stuff up,” Dunn said. “We’ll see what happens.”
So far the plan to add Dunn on a four-year, $56 million deal hasn’t offered much reward, and Dunn himself is among the first to admit it, but it doesn’t mean it can’t still offer some benefit. The White Sox are trying to convince Dunn that what lies ahead matters more than what has passed.
He entered play Thursday with just eight hits in 72 at-bats over his last 21 games, a .111 batting average over that stretch. His 80 strikeouts lead the American League.
Despite it all, Dunn isn’t getting any special treatment, which means he is open to ribbing just like any other White Sox player.
“I just say, ‘Can you please have a good day, then I don’t have to answer all the questions about you?’” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Please have a good day so [hitting coach] Greg Walker doesn’t have to drink a bottle of wine [in] your name to forget about your bad night.’”
Actually, Guillen is trusting Dunn to turn things around, expecting his track record as a proven run producer to emerge at some point.
“I just leave those [veteran] guys alone,” Guillen said. “I keep saying if this problem was with Gordon [Beckham] or [Brent Morel], [Sergio] Santos, [Chris] Sale … all those kids, I will worry about them. But this kid has plenty of at-bats under his belt. They know how to survive and hopefully they come out of this as quick as they can. And the only way you do it is by playing.”
So what did Dunn learn from sitting out?
“Besides that you don’t like sitting out for a couple days, you know, but I did it to myself so the good thing is I got to sit back and watch the game and remember it is baseball and it’s still fun,” Dunn said. “I don’t really have something to point a finger at the reason why I’m not [performing]. It’s just not been there. The good news is we have four months left.”
Dunn has heard all the mental advice about how he should pretend the season starts now and foret what has happened so far.
“I’m not panicking as much as I probably should be,” he said. “But again we’ve got four months left and a lot of good things could happen.”