By S.C. Zuba
Apparently, Adam Dunn doesn’t read this column.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a column arguing the White Sox designated hitter would turn around his season. I believed (and still believe) that Dunn would break out of this slump and return to his old self. What I am starting to doubt, however, is if that will happen this season.
In the six games since that column was written, Dunn went 2-for-25 with 16 strikeouts. Included in those numbers is his 0-for-4 appearance against his former team, the Washington Nationals, where he struck out four times to bring his season total to 100 strikeouts.
It’s as if he is a different Adam Dunn this season. Something has to change. You simply can’t continue making the money he is making ($12 million this season) and play at the level he has been playing at. It’s inexcusable.
White Sox captain Paul Konerko shared his thoughts about Dunn’s situation after a loss to the Nationals last Sunday, June 26.
“In the grand scheme of things, if [Dunn] wants to play 15 years … to have a few bad months is such a blip on the radar screen,” Konerko said. “It’s [tough] when you’re going through it, but you just got to think big picture. Once you get over that hump and get by it, you’re a better player for it, and better hitter and everything will be better for it.”
While that is true, that “blip on the radar screen” is costing the White Sox precious games in a very, very tight American League Central Division.
The AL Central is completely bunched up. There really is no front-runner, no team that has a better chance of winning the division than another. Every game is vital, and when your designated hitter is causing more harm than benefit, something has to change.
The White Sox are then put in a difficult position. What do they do? Do they bench the player they just signed to a $56 million contract? Or do they let him play through this inexplicable slump that has lasted since Dunn first put on a White Sox uniform?
It’s a decision I wouldn’t want to make. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to make that decision. Unfortunately for White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, he does have to make it. And from the sound of it, Guillen is going to let Dunn play through this strikeout frenzy.
“I wish I could be in his brain to see what he’s thinking,” Guillen said. “I know it’s not a good thing, but believe me, if there’s one person who feels bad about this situation, it’s him. He wants to produce and help us.
“But the only way you go through it is to keep playing and continue swinging the bat,” Guillen said. “Hopefully, it will click one of these times, and he’ll have a couple of good games and come out of this.”
Ozzie’s right — one would hope it would click soon and Dunn can swing through it. But if Dunn can’t make it out of the slump, he is going to swing the White Sox out of this pennant race.
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From the June 29-July 5, 2011 issue