Adam Dunn grateful for new season
CHICAGO -- The loudest countdown on New Year's Eve might have been coming from the Adam Dunn household.
The disappointing Chicago White Sox slugger is among those glad that the calendar has turned to 2012 -- the further he can get away from the worst season of his career the better.
Dunn met the media at SoxFest Saturday afternoon, one day after the rest of his teammates. He said he had a meeting he wasn't able to reschedule, which forced him to miss the opening ceremonies -- and a probable booing -- at SoxFest.
Dunn won't be able to escape the boos forever, of course, and understands after a season where he batted .159 and struck out 177 times.
But after a Saturday morning autograph session, Dunn said he had been treated just fine so far.
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"I kind of came here and didn't know what to expect," he said. "For the most part, it's been great."
The challenge will be to continue thinking things are "great" once the season begins. So far, all of Dunn's thoughts are positive.
"We made two pretty good moves, I think this offseason. That was hopefully getting me and Alex (Rios) back (on track)," Dunn said. "That's the way I'm looking at it. We pretty much have the same team. We lost a couple of key players. We have guys capable of stepping in and filling that role and do a little better. That's what we're expecting."
His mood Saturday was a far cry from where it was in the second half of last season when the struggles mounted along with each disappointing at-bat. The offseason couldn't come soon enough, but when it did, something unexpected happened.
"I thought it would be a lot longer than it was (to feel refreshed)," Dunn said. "The first week (of the offseason) was probably the greatest week, I don't want to say of my life because that would be a lie... but much needed. After about a week, I was ready to get back to doing stuff. I thought I wouldn't (be)."
But while a week was all it took to feel like working on his game again, unloading the baggage of the season wasn't so easy.
"I thought I'd be able to go back home and blow it off and forget about it," he said. "I wasn't able to do that, which isn't exactly how I thought I would handle it. But at this point right now, it's over. As soon as New Year's Eve came, when I was in bed at 12:01 (a.m.) like everyone, that's a new year."
Whether or not it becomes a productive year remains to be seen. Dunn said he has been hitting in an indoor batting cage, but declined to elaborate on the details. If anything he looks like he may have dropped a few pounds, but nothing too significant.
He continues to avoid making excuses. He won't blame the switch to a new league, a new role in the designated hitter spot or his early-season appendectomy, although those certainly all played into his struggles.
"You couldn't go anywhere without people asking, 'What happened?' or 'What's wrong?'" Dunn said. "Basically it's looking for me to say an excuse at some point. That ain't happening."
Dunn sounds refreshed mentally but that isn't necessarily an indicator that success is around the corner. A 100-RBI season might going a long way toward winning back White Sox fans, but it might take back-to-back 100 RBI seasons to really get back into their good graces. And just because he failed on a massive scale doesn't mean he now has an important piece of knowledge that will help him to avoid the same fate this year.
"I don't buy into the, 'You need to fail (mindset).'" Dunn said. "Like when everyone said the Packers needed to lose a game to go into the playoffs. Why? You want to win them all. I want to be as good as I can every single year for 20 years or for however long I play.
"I'm going into this year feeling as good as I've felt in a long time and just ready to get started and quit talking about it. Doesn't matter where you go, everyone is talking about it. I realize that comes with (the territory), but I really can't wait for Opening Day."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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