Tuesday, April 9, 2013
No DH in NL park, so Dunn out of White Sox lineup
WASHINGTON -- A framed, color photograph of Adam Dunn in the batter's box hangs in the corridor leading to the home clubhouse at Nationals Park.
And when he stepped out of a taxi Tuesday before his Chicago White Sox opened a series at the Washington Nationals, Dunn was greeted warmly by a security guard.
"Like I was here yesterday," Dunn said.
He played for the Nationals in 2009 and 2010, when the losses mounted but the groundwork was being set in place for a team that suddenly soared to a majors-high 98 wins and an NL East title last year.
"I think everyone saw it coming," Dunn said about the Nationals' turnaround. "You probably didn't see it coming as quickly as it did. But it was just definitely a matter of time. They've got the right people in the right places. They've got people making good decisions that should be making the decisions. They've got a good thing going over here."
As he spoke, Dunn sat in the visiting clubhouse, fiddling with the tan laces on a black fielder's glove, his name stitched in white cursive letters on the thumb. Not that he was necessarily going to put it to much use Tuesday.
With no designated hitter spot for an interleague game at an NL ballpark -- and left-hander Gio Gonzalez starting for Washington -- Dunn was out of Chicago's starting lineup for the first time this season. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said it was "more than likely" Dunn would play in the field Wednesday at Washington.
During Chicago's 4-2 start, Dunn hit cleanup every game, with five starts at DH and one at first base. He has two homers and three RBIs. On Tuesday, Paul Konerko was fourth in the batting order and at first base.
Asked what he thinks about the different DH rules in baseball's two leagues, Dunn replied: "I do have an opinion. But I'd like to keep it to myself, because I like my job."
He moved to the AL before the 2011 season, leaving Washington as a free agent to join the White Sox with a $56 million, four-year contract.
"I think Adam's happy where he's at," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He had a great year last year. He's on a good team. And I think he's very happy with how his career's played out."
That career includes more than 400 homers and more than 1,000 RBIs.
Dunn, listed at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, is not a fan of getting an extra day off. From 2004 to 2010, he never played in fewer than 152 games in a season. He hit 38 homers in each of his two years in Washington, compiling 105 RBIs in 2009 (when the Nationals went 59-103) and 103 in 2010 (when the club was 69-93).
"No matter what -- good, bad -- the fans were fans and they really enjoyed having a big league baseball team in Washington," Dunn recalled. "They came to the park every day -- whether it was 10,000, whether it was 30,000 -- they came to root and cheer for the Nationals."
During batting practice Tuesday, he exchanged hugs and handshakes with Nationals players and coaches, pausing to chat with some.
"They've got some of my good buddies on that team. I obviously want the best for them," Dunn said, before a sort-of-kidding aside that he won't wish those pals well during this three-game series.
"I'm definitely happy to see what they've done. Everybody's done a great job. It's good to see," Dunn added. "It's good for guys like (Zimmerman), who's been there through the worst times and now he's getting rewarded for it."
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