Ventura giving Dunn his space in offseason

Adam Dunn struck out 177 times and drove in 42 runs in his first season with the White Sox. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

CHICAGO – As baseball’s hype machine gets ready to rev up with the news-making winter meetings next week, Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn will continue to keep a low profile.

The big news regarding Dunn is that he has started to get himself in shape for the 2012 season, according to general manager Kenny Williams, but he hasn’t necessarily started swinging a bat yet.

That’s just fine with new manager Robin Ventura, who still wants Dunn to decompress after some sub-par production during his first season on the South Side.

“I don’t feel the need to call him up and give him a pep talk,” Ventura said via conference call Thursday. “He’s ready to go, motivated and that’s really all you want at this point. When we get closer [to spring training] I’ll call, but for now I don’t want him to worry about baseball. Most guys start in January anyway. I’d rather him get in shape than worry about baseball stuff.”

With all of baseball’s movers and shakers ready to convene in Dallas starting Monday, Dunn will be at his home in the Houston area quietly going about his business.

It won’t be that way for long, though, as Ventura admitted that the White Sox’s fortunes likely will ride on bounce-back seasons from Dunn and Alex Rios. Ventura isn’t looking for them to produce for his benefit, though.

“I look at it for them,” Ventura said. “I’m not worried for myself but for the team it would be nice to have them come back and be positive and play the way they expect to play. I’m not tying everything to them, but they want to do well too.”

Dunn batted just .159 last season with a .292 on-base percentage and a .272 slugging percentage while striking out 177 times. He drove in 42 runs, after driving in at least 100 in each of the past five seasons in the National League and seven of the past eight.

Rios batted .227 with a .265 on-base percentage and a .348 slugging percentage, while driving in 44 runs.