Adam Dunn looking to be more aggressive at plate
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org February 18, 2013 12:07AM
Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn waits during batting practice at baseball spring training in Phoenix, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:31AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Slugger Adam Dunn led the American League with 222 strikeouts and 105 walks in 2012. If he follows through on taking the different approach he has talked about, look for both numbers to drop in 2013.
Dunn often walked away from at-bats last season kicking himself for letting hittable pitches go by early in counts.
‘‘That’s going to be an emphasis this spring,’’ Dunn said Sunday. ‘‘Try to be more aggressive, not get myself too deep into counts, [stop] being so selective early, especially on the first pitch.’’
Dunn’s .204 average last season was 36 points below his career mark, and his .333 on-base percentage was 37 points below his career norm. Manager Robin Ventura said he is OK with the walk total dropping, provided the hit total increases.
‘‘That’s the way I would like to see the equation,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘You get more hits, especially the way they play him with the shift. Go ahead and take the hits to the left side.
‘‘You want him to be more aggressive. For a guy like him, there is something about hitting earlier in the count instead of taking pitches that are close or just off. . . . We’re not talking about expanding the zone and swinging and missing; you’re talking about being a little more aggressive, going out of the zone and making contact.’’
Dunn faced 157 full counts last season and led the majors in pitches per plate appearance at 4.43.
Room to improve
Even without A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis, Ventura has a higher expectation for the offense.
‘‘You want it to be better,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think anybody had career years last year, so we expect that offense to be better.’’
Dunn said the Sox’ late-fading bats in 2012 will motivate hitters, but Ventura said that has its limits.
‘‘It’s nice that it sticks in your skull, but focus on getting back to the first game of the year and realizing it’s a long way to get there,’’ Ventura said.
Left-hander John Danks threw off a mound for the second time and gave a positive report. That’s an important step, considering the issues he had on bounce-back days last season before he had shoulder surgery.
‘‘It’s a big sign that I was able to get out there and feel good again,’’ Danks said. ‘‘That makes me feel a lot better about things. We’ll see how it feels in a couple of days. Let’s get a batter in there. It will be fun.”
Danks will throw live batting practice in his next three outings, with two days days off between each.
Danks appeared to be throwing a few miles per hour slower than fellow lefty Chris Sale, which wasn’t unexpected.
‘‘I’m trying to get it there and make the ball do some things and definitely want to pop the glove,’’ Danks said. ‘‘But I’m not trying to throw 93 mph, either. It’s intense. I’m getting work in, but it isn’t game speed.’’
All accounted for
All players were on hand for the first full-squad workout, plus short speeches from Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn.
‘‘Just straight to the point,’’ Ventura said.