Ozzie rolls dice, Dunn responds with K

August, 31, 2011
Padilla By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- Manager Ozzie Guillen proved he has the stomach for just about anything Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeAdam Dunn
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAdam Dunn once again struck out in a key situation for the White Sox on Wednesday.

He must if he was willing to let Adam Dunn pinch hit in the ninth inning for Brent Lillibridge as the White Sox were in the midst of a rally against Minnesota Twins reliever Joe Nathan.

Lillibridge not only had two hits in the game, one of them was a home run to give the White Sox their first two runs.

Maybe swimming the English Channel alone at night would have been seen as a slightly riskier move, but Guillen explained his decision after Dunn struck out and the White Sox eventually were held off in a 7-6 victory by the Twins.

“Dunn can do a lot of things,” Guillen said. “I didn't like the matchup, Nathan against [Lillibridge]. Dunn can go up there and hit the ball out of the ballpark or walk. Obviously, he struck out, but that's the matchup I liked the best. Unfortunately it didn't work.”

The left-handed hitting Dunn against the right-hander Nathan is likely what influenced Guillen’s decision the most. Lillibridge bats right handed.

But the tiny sample size begged to differ. Dunn was hitless in two at-bats against Nathan with a strikeout. Lillibridge had a two-run home run in his only at-bat against him.

Like taking a chance on that week-old sushi in the back of the fridge, the risk ultimately outweighed the reward.

Dunn worked a full count against Nathan while representing the tying run, but whiffed on a 94 mph fastball, his 158th strikeout of the season. Paul Konerko followed with a two-run single to bring the White Sox within a run, but Alex Rios struck out to end it.

There’s no telling what Lillibridge would have done, but in hindsight, the only thing worse would have been to hit into a double play.

“I always want to be in there to get the opportunity to win a game or at least give us a chance to win,” said Lillibridge, when asked if the competitive side in him wanted a chance in the ninth inning. “But that matchup is whatever it is. I trust in [bench coach] Joey [Cora] and Ozzie and the decisions they make.”

His 13 home runs this season, two more than Dunn in nearly 200 less at-bats, weren't enough to convince the coaching staff that he was the man for the job this time.

“Hopefully further in my career I’ll be the guy that they want up there and just keep on doing what I can when I get to play,” Lillibridge said. “Hopefully get in there as much as possible in those situations and hopefully thrive at one point. I understand it. It’s part of the game but I definitely am waiting for the opportunity.”

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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