Dunn's new routine produces old results
As a career position player prior to joining the Chicago White Sox in 2011, Adam Dunn's transition to DH was hardly a smooth one.
Chicago’s big-ticket free agent acquisition spent his first season as a full-time DH in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, grossly underperforming the four-year, $56 million deal he signed with the Sox. His .159 batting average in 2011 was a historically putrid year – and a low point in his career.
Dunn’s second season on the South Side has been a vast improvement; he leads the club with seven homers and 20 RBIs while getting on base at a .372 clip.
In an interview with ESPN 1000’s “Talkin’ Baseball” on Saturday, Dunn attributed his recent success to a change in routine.
“That was the thing: I really like being on the bench, and I don’t like being in the clubhouse,” Dunn said. “I think a lot of times I’d go and hit maybe too much. Then by my fourth at-bat or third at-bat, I’m gassed. I’d get so antsy to want to do something. ... You see the guys out there on the field and you feel like you need to be doing something. So you go in the cage and take 50 swings. … But I feel like I’ve done a better job this year of having a set routine. As long as I feel ready to hit every at-bat. I think I’ve kind of narrowed that down a bit.”
Though then-Sox manger Ozzie Guillen tried mixing Dunn in at both first base and in the outfield, the slugger played 81 games at DH, which was a dramatic departure from his prior seasons.
“With me, my personality, I’m pretty (hyper),” Dunn said. “That was real tough for me to, initially, kind of sit there and watch the game. But I’ve obviously found ways to bide my time now. That was a learning process, but it wasn’t that big of an excuse.”
While the pressure of the lucrative free-agent contract was often cited as a reason for his dramatic decline in production by media members, Dunn never bought into that logic.
“It’s one of those things where, if we were able to flip that switch on so-called contract years, that wouldn’t make so much sense,” Dunn said. “I think I’d want that switch on all the time … and be one of the best players of all time. (Contract pressure) is a built-in excuse. You definitely don’t want to get embarrassed and you definitely want to do your job not only for yourself but for the 24 other guys in the locker room.”
“You just gotta keep reminding them that they are starting in the big leagues for a reason,” Dunn told “Talkin Baseball.” “And they’ve been doing this their whole lives. Hitting is hard enough, and I think we complicate it more by probably thinking so much mechanics that you kind of overshadow the big picture, and that’s just put the barrel on the ball and it doesn’t really matter how you do it. As long as you do it.”
Dunn and the White Sox continue a three-game set with the Tigers on Saturday afternoon. Chicago dropped the series opener on Friday night.
Adam Dunn talks about his improvement at the plate in his second season with the White Sox.
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