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Saturday, April 23, 2011
Walker emphatic in defense of White Sox

By Doug Padilla

DETROIT -- Typically mild-mannered, White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker showed some fire in his belly when the subject turned to the team’s hitting on Saturday.

Asked about Carlos Quentin emerging from the team’s collective hitting struggles, Walker apparently only heard the word “struggles” and let loose with his opinion of the state of the offense.

“Actually, I think our scuffles are way overblown,” Walker said, as his voice started to rise. “We’re averaging five runs a game. We’re fourth in the league in runs scored. We got a couple high-profile guys who haven’t got going yet. One of them got operated on a week ago [Adam Dunn on April 6].

“I’m not worried. We’re good. We’re averaging five runs a game and we got two of our big boys not even started. I’m just sort of sick of the negative [expletive], I really am. We’re not that bad.”

Yes, the team’s overall run production is good. They actually entered Saturday’s game with the fourth most runs scored in the American League. But that included one game where they scored 15 runs, one with 10, another with eight and one with nine. That’s 42 of their 94 runs (46 percent) in just four of their 20 games.

Over the last 11 games before Saturday, the White Sox had a .201 team batting average with just 32 runs scored. Over the first nine games, the White Sox batted .307 with 62 runs scored.

Dunn’s production has all but dried up since his appendectomy and he has dropped two spots in the lineup to fifth, where he will continue to operate as long as Quentin stays red hot in the No. 3 hole.

“Hey, the guy was a dominant force until he had an appendectomy,” Walker said about Dunn. “He’s had, what, six, seven, eight days back? Sit around and watch. He’ll be fine.”

Dunn’s timing is off though and pitchers have been able to expose him with off-speed stuff because he is cheating on fastballs.

“When he starts hitting fastballs, watch out, because a lot of people are going to pay,” Walker said.

The talent is certainly there and the White Sox have faced some talented pitchers, so the sense is that the White Sox’s results will only get better.

“We’re good; we’re doing good,” Walker said. “We’ve scored more runs off these tough guys than anyone else is doing off any of them. We have a tough stretch against tough pitching. We scored some runs off them. We’re battling. We’re not giving them away.

“There’s been one game where I was disappointed in our focus and effort. That was the second game against Anaheim [on April 16]. Other than that, our guys have been there battling. We’ve got a couple of high-profile guys scuffling a bit, but overall, we’re scoring runs. We’re doing fine.”

The trick now is to get Dunn, Gordon Beckham and Alex Rios going while others continue to produce.

"Very seldom during a season do you have nine guys swing the bat well,” Walker said. “We don’t have nine guys swinging the bat well. In the big picture, we’re scoring five runs a game. OK, so we score 15 in one. Guess what? We needed all 15, didn’t we? So you just fight the fight.

“The most important thing for an offensive team is wins. We’re not winning games. Hey, we got to get better. But overall, I don’t look at this as being a negative situation as it’s been portrayed. I don’t see it that way.”