It’s been 2011 all over again for the burly slugger, who has been a drain in the middle of the order for one of the most under-producing offenses in baseball. The White Sox are last in runs in the American League, and only the Miami Marlins are worse in all of baseball.
So with the White Sox going up against Los Angeles Angels starter C.J. Wilson, Dunn was set to open the game as an observer. Paul Konerko was at first base, while Dayan Viciedo was the designated hitter and batting fifth. Casper Wells got the chance to play left field.
“A day to have a breather is good; you get Casper in there,” Ventura said. “A lot of the guys, you get to a point where everybody wants to do a lot more than they need to do instead of making it simple. It's just one of those where you give him a day to not have to think about that.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Dunn isn’t up there on national television swinging through pitches like he was Saturday night and has been most of the season so far.
Just as he did when he moved Jeff Keppinger down in the batting order starting Friday night, Ventura preferred to stay low key about the move. A player’s manager, Ventura practices patience over quick-trigger moves, a tactic that might or might not lead to more victories but does lead to better clubhouse harmony.
Dunn, though, has shown that he can get buried quickly and stay there all season. In 2011, his first season on the south side, he batted .159 with a .292 on-base percentage and a .277 slugging percentage. So far this season those numbers are .137/.235/.308 after 32 games.
“There's physical things that happen with guys, and then there's the mental [side] of going up there and you feel pretty good,” Ventura said. “Again, trying to do too much changes things. A lot happens when you go from the on-deck circle to the plate. That's just something that, you get to a point where you're just trying to do simple things. That's all really we need to do -- is take care of the simple things.”
Ventura said that was not the theme of his closed-door meeting Saturday night but wouldn’t have been a bad topic to address with the group. In addition to being last in runs in the AL, the White Sox are last in hits in all of baseball with 257 and are second to last to the Marlins in OPS at .649.
“I've been in a lot of them, and I don't like them,” Ventura said about Saturday’s team meeting. “I just think teams that scuffle have meetings a lot, so I don't want to have too many meetings. Teams that win don't seem to have that many meetings because they don't need to. I would rather that be the last one of the year.”