Dunn understands basis of 'mediocre' comment

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It took a few days. But word finally reached big Reds bopper Adam Dunn on Saturday that Mike Schmidt can't understand why he strikes out so much.

Dunn's bemused response: "I can't either."

"If you'd told me five or six years ago that I'd strike out this many times, I'd have said you were crazy," said Dunn, the only player in history to have two 190-strikeout seasons on the back of his baseball card. "So I'm with him on that."

Schmidt issued a written statement of apology Monday for using the word "mediocre" to describe Dunn and strikeout-prone Phillies leftfielder Pat Burrell in an interview he did last month with the Dayton Daily News' Hall of Fame baseball writer, Hal McCoy. But Dunn wasn't aware of either the initial criticism or the apology until he was informed of it by ESPN.com on Saturday.

When told of Schmidt's use of the word "mediocre," Dunn replied, "Well, that's a Hall of Fame opinion. I'm not proud of it, either. But I don't need somebody going around saying it when I already know it. I don't need to hear it from people. I think some of these guys forget how hard the game was."

In fact, though, Schmidt -- who once whiffed 180 times in a season himself -- did say he saw a lot of himself in both Dunn and Burrell. But Schmidt also said he aspired his entire career to cut down those strikeouts and become a different kind of hitter than what he was early in his career.

"I think everyone does," said Dunn. "I don't want to be the kind of hitter I am. I know I'm better, and it's frustrating. It just tells you how hard the game is. I know it's in there. I've done it. It's in there, and it's coming out. I just don't know when."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.