Sox’ Adam Dunn on record pace for strikeouts
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Sun-Times Media June 26, 2012 11:14PM
The Sox’ Alex Rios is congratulated by teammate Dayan Viciedo after his fourth-inning home run. | Jim Mone~AP
Updated: July 28, 2012 6:45AM
MINNEAPOLIS — The whiffs just keep on coming for Adam Dunn. Concerned?
If he also is hitting home runs, driving in runs and moving runners along when he makes contact, Dunn’s strikeout numbers — he has 121 after going 0-for-4 and striking out twice in the White Sox’s 3-2 victory Tuesday against the Minne-
sota Twins — won’t look so bad.
Dunn’s run of 21 strikeouts and no homers during a 3-for-36 slump are worrisome, though. Overall, he is hitting .208 with 23 homers and 53 RBI.
‘‘It’s the kind of strikeouts,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘There are some when it looks like he’s missing more than when you see him missing a pitch. He might be out front more with a timing thing that can be worked on. But I don’t worry about those strikeouts when he’s doing what he was doing a
couple of weeks ago.’’
Dunn is on pace for 265 strikeouts, 42 more than Mark Reynolds’ major-league record. Ventura said he hadn’t seen those projections, and he rallied to Dunn’s defense when he was asked if he wanted to know what they were.
‘‘No, I like what I see,’’ he said. ‘‘When I see him swinging the bat well, then I don’t think those are going to be the numbers. One year I hit three home runs on Opening Day, and they projected 300-and-something home runs out of me. It didn’t happen. So projections, they’ll be there. Sometimes they’re a little misleading.’’
With right-hander Gavin Floyd halting a trend of poor performances against the Twins with seven scoreless innings — his second consecutive scoreless outing — the Sox could wait another day for Dunn to bust out. Alex Rios hit a 407-foot homer against Twins starter Liam Hendriks in the fourth and scored the Sox’s third run on Alexei Ramirez’s bloop single in the seventh.
Ventura did say he might tinker with the order. He has more flexibility now that Kevin Youkilis, who has batted in all nine spots during his career, is his third baseman.
With a career .242 average, Dunn isn’t a prototypical No. 3 hitter. Ventura, though, has been comfortable with him there because of his high walk total and high on-base percentage.
But now that he has Youkilis, a player who takes a lot of pitches and is a tough out when he’s on top of his game, Ventura might be tempted to bat him third, with Paul Konerko, Dunn and Rios following.
In that scenario, Ventura might entertain the idea of A.J. Pierzynski’s left-handed bat in the 2-hole — something he toyed with during spring training — or return Gordon Beckham to second from ninth.
‘‘It could come up,’’ Ventura said of moving Dunn out of the third spot. ‘‘You think about a lot of different things, but right now he’s pulling too many pitches. Earlier in the year, he was hitting a lot of balls to center field. You can get into that thing where you try to hit a home run every time you come up instead of just plan to hit.’’
Slumps happen. Konerko, who leads the American League in batting average, was in a 7-for-42 slide entering the game Tuesday. And Dunn is a far cry from the .159
disaster of 2011.
‘‘I don’t think it’s anything like last year, but it’s one of those he’s got to work through,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I’m not worried about him. It’s just a little funk that everyone else goes through during the course of the year, and he’ll come back out of it.’’
That said, the Sox’ light hitting of late was a bigger concern for Ventura than Floyd entering the game.
‘‘We need to score some runs
before we worry about what he’s doing,” Ventura said.