Dunn OK with plans for reduced role with Sox
Slugger willing to do 'whatever helps us win' during 2014 season
CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn had 649 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2012 and 607 in 2013.
Those numbers will almost certainly drop in 2014, as Dunn, Paul Konerko and Jose Abreu will all factor into the mix at first base and designated hitter -- with Abreu the only one guaranteed near everyday playing time. But that drop in at-bats doesn't bother Dunn.
Dunn hit 41 homers in 2012, when he garnered Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year and the Players Choice American League Comeback honors, and launched 34 last season. Those totals will likely decline a bit in '14 with Dunn figuring to get fewer at-bats.
That potential dip in personal statistics doesn't bother Dunn, either, even in his final season of a four-year, $56 million deal with the White Sox.
Entering the 2014 campaign, Dunn sits as the active leader among Major League players at 1,870 games played without reaching the postseason. Now, that's a number that Dunn doesn't like -- one he hopes to rectify.
Placing this team goal first and foremost, Dunn has no problem with his new shared role with Konerko and even Abreu at times. It's a situation Dunn and Konerko discussed on a few occasions during the offseason, as Konerko made his decision to return for a 16th and final campaign in Chicago.
"The good news is, there's no egos -- especially with me and Paul," Dunn told media members in between SoxFest activities on Saturday. "We talked about it when he was making his decision. Whatever is going to help us win that night, I know he's for it and I'm for it. That, to me, is a non-issue.
"It made me feel pretty good that Paul really wanted to make sure we were all on the same page with it. I couldn't express enough how much A, we need him back, and B, it's not going to affect anything. If he's hot, let him roll. Whatever helps us win, I'm in."
There were a couple of fans who sharply criticized Dunn's at-bats during Saturday morning's Town Hall Meeting, at which point general manager Rick Hahn pointed out that the left-handed slugger was the team's top offensive force during June, July and August of last season. One fan in the crowd audibly groaned when Hahn made the statement, to which Hahn calmly shot back that the statistics back up his comment.
Hahn was right. Dunn hit .274 with nine homers and a .402 on-base percentage in June. He hit .277 with four homers and a .388 on-base percentage in July, and he hit .267 with five homers and a .355 on-base percentage in August.
His power and on-base potential comes with a propensity to swing and miss, which always has been the case in Dunn's career -- which has featured 440 homers, 1,246 walks and 2,220 strikeouts. Those chances will be cut down some this season with Dunn lined up against right-handed hitters, at least in the current stage of the plan.
Whatever the terminology for Dunn's situation, calling it platoon or shared time, the 34-year-old veteran is excited about this incarnation of the White Sox. He wasn't big on being part of a rebuild, but doesn't view Hahn's offseason work as rebuilding.
"I don't think we completely blew the team up," Dunn said. "Last year is gone, thankfully. The nucleus we have is pretty much the same as it was the year prior, with the addition of we'll have Avisail [Garcia] for the whole time, who's a stud; and Adam Eaton is going to bring a whole lot of excitement. The pitching staff with Johnny [Danks] is going to be healthy. I like where we're at.
"I'm not looking at it as a rebuild, even though we brought in a lot of young guys. But a lot of young guys got some valuable experience last year. The season is definitely not [written] off, that's for sure."
For the first time in 14 years, Dunn will not be viewed as an everyday player. It doesn't bother him, as long as the White Sox move in a winning direction.
"If in '11 we would have made the playoffs, I would have been happier than anybody in the clubhouse," said Dunn, who had the most miserable year of his accomplished career during his first year with the White Sox. "The ultimate goal is to win the World Series, and if you don't give yourself that chance ... you've got to get in the playoffs. I don't care how good or bad, it's over and you didn't accomplish the goal."