Adam Dunn is all right with playing in left during crosstown series
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com May 17, 2012 8:14PM
Adam Dunn is penciled in for duty in left field during the three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs that starts Friday. | Mark Duncan~AP
Updated: July 1, 2012 11:49AM
ANAHEIM, Calif. — We might have caught Adam Dunn in a half-truth on this one:
“I have always enjoyed playing in that ballpark,’’ Dunn said of Wrigley Field. “I usually see the ball well there, and the fans make it fun for you.’’
Dunn was speaking in general terms, but there is no way he enjoyed playing at Wrigley, where the White Sox open a three-game series on Friday, in 2011. There was nothing he could have enjoyed about a season that is no less perplexing now that Dunn is producing like Adam Dunn again than it was then.
Then again, perhaps Dunn is being true to his word when he says he is forgetting about last year, when he batted .159 with 11 home runs. He was 0-for-16 against the Cubs last season with nine strikeouts. At Wrigley Field, one of his favorite parks to hit — his 25 homers rank second only to PNC Park in Pittsburgh for homers hit away from home — he was 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.
Last year the focus on Dunn at Wrigley was about his futility. This year it’s about his comeback.
“I don’t even remember [last year],’’ Dunn said when asked about his first Friendly Confines experience as a Sox. “I think I played first. I have no idea what I did (at the plate). My guess would be no good.’’
This time, Dunn is penciled in for left-field duty, his first since spring training. He has played 995 games in left in his career, far more than his 384 at first — where he played Thursday in the Sox’ 6-1 win against the Angels.
Dunn’s two-run, two-out single against C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning gave the Sox and starter Chris Sale a 3-0 lead and raised his team-high RBI total to 30. Dunn drove in 42 last year.
Wrigley is not a spacious outfield, but left field is not easy to play. Dunn knows what it’s like to meet bricks face-to-face, battle sun and wind and stumble over the bullpen mound in foul territory.
“There is a lot of stuff out there to avoid,’’ he said. “But it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.’’
Then there are the fans looking over your shoulder. Heckling, razzing, booing, boozing. They’ll have less material this year with Dunn coming in with 12 homers.
“Sometimes the fans are really good,’’ Dunn said. “I like original stuff, I don’t want to hear the same stuff you hear every day. That’s boring. I hope they come up with some funny stuff.
“I’m looking forward to left field, it kind of breaks up the monotony of doing the same thing every day. It will be fun to get out there and run around a little bit.’’
The Sox have played in front of small crowds at home and at Cleveland, so the energy at Wrigley will be welcome.
“Absolutely. It makes it so much more fun to play for a lively crowd,’’ Dunn said. “It doesn’t have to be a big crowd. That’s what will happen this weekend, it will be fun.
“I just enjoy going there knowing what this kind of rivalry means to the city. It will step up the intensity for the games a little more.’’
With the AL Central favorite Tigers struggling, the Sox could be a lot worse off with their 18-21 record.
“There’s guys struggling who have pretty good track records but somehow, some way, I hope everybody figures it out to click,’’ Dunn said. “For one time, I’d like to see everyone hitting. This lineup could be fun to watch if it happens.’’