CHICAGO -- You can see a different hitter evolving in the batter’s box these days, as Adam Dunn is slowly starting to make more consistent contact.
Slumps are nothing new for the Chicago White Sox slugger, but so far this season he wasn’t even getting his usual walk numbers.
A recent slump doesn’t support the hypothesis that Dunn is getting it together, (3-for-50 in his last 13 games before Friday), but nonetheless, he and his hitting coach Jeff Manto see a good streak coming. Dunn went 2-for-4 Friday with an RBI in the Sox’s 5-4 win over the Rays.
“He has been working on his base and his base has gotten better,” Manto said before Friday’s game. “We began to see some better at-bats from him in Toronto. He has taken those better at-bats through the homestand but doesn’t have raw numbers to prove it. We see it and we are taking small steps right now. If you watch him flying out to left and left center that is a good sign and he is doing that right now.”
Dunn worked extensively during spring training on being more aggressive early in counts and driving the ball to the opposite field. Although it looked good in the spring, he appeared lost in the batter’s box on the team’s 10-game road trip.
“If he decides he wants to go back to his previous approach he deserves to,” Manto said. “He is in the midst of a great career. Whatever he thinks is good for him is fine, we can only suggest things and gave players information and we can’t convince them if they aren’t willing. If that is what he feels is best for him, so be it. Other great players like Frank Thomas , Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome all had a lot of walks in their career and they are who they are because of their great plate discipline.”
Dunn has stayed strong through tougher times than right now. He had the lowest batting average in the modern era of baseball during a brutal 2011 season. (.159/11 HRs/42 RBIs). Then in 2012 he won the AL comeback player of the year award while raising his batting average 50 points.
“It is hard to sit here and tell everybody that you feel good when the results are not there,” Dunn said after hitting a two-run home run Thursday night. “I do feel good and I have felt good for most part of the season. Obviously the results are not where I want them.”
Dunn walked three times on Wednesday evening. That type of discipline had not been a part of his earlier at-bats . Dunn had only three bases on balls in the team’s first 18 games . Although he is known a big strikeout guy, Dunn led the AL in walks last season with 105.
“I know if I feel bad or good at the plate,” he said. “I don’t pay attention to the negative stuff (in the media.) It would be real easy to do. If you start focusing on all the negatives about yourself you will start pressing and it’s not good for anything.”
Even when he is striking out and looking bad at the plate, Dunn may be the most confident player in the ballpark on a given night. That type of confidence cannot be taught.
“Everyone wants him up at the plate in a big situation,” Manto said. “You can never exhale as an opposing player or pitcher when he comes up. He is a game breaker, game changer and as long as he is comfortable, our big RBI man.”