SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 28: Dayan Viciedo #24 of the Chicago White Sox is congratulated by teammates after hitting a three-run home run against the Seattle Mariners during a game at Safeco Field on August 28, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\122712834.jpg
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:28AM
SEATTLE — Dayan Viciedo knows how to make an entrance. After blooping a single to center field in his first at-bat on Sunday, the 22-year-old slugger lined a three-run homer to center, dramatically breaking a scoreless tie and sending the Sox to a 9-3 victory against the Seattle Mariners.
With Viciedo making his long-awaited presence felt immediately and Adam Dunn being sent to the bench to get his mind and bat right for 2012, the Sox completed a three-game sweep that pushed them over .500 for the second time since April 16. They moved past the Cleveland Indians into second place and cut the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers’ lead to six.
Hitting a home run in his first game this season was one thing. The spectacle of the Dick Allen-type drive over a wall was another.
“That ball was hammered,’’ Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “I haven’t seen too many balls hit like that this year.’’
It was a rocket that energized but didn’t shock the Sox dugout.
“I think we all knew what kind of talent he has,’’ winning pitcher Gavin Floyd said.
Before the game, manager Ozzie Guillen said he will talk to Dunn about sending him to the bench. Told that was in the works, Dunn was not surprised. It has been the season from the netherworld for the $56 million slugger
“I’m a realist, not an idiot,’’ Dunn said. “We’re right in the middle of things. What do you do? What do you say?”
The subject of his failure to produce — Dunn’.163 average and 156 strikeouts are numbers that put his season among the worst ever — has become an increasingly irritating one for the likeable Texan.
“He has handled it very, very good,’’ Guillen said. “Every time he is at bat my heart stops. For him. He feels horrible. Maybe not for the fans and because of [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf’s] money, but his teammates.’’
Dunn appreciated Guillen’s thoughts, “but that gets me nowhere, other than sanity,’’ he said. “I don’t know how else to handle it. I can take shoelaces out of my shoes but other than that, that’s all I can do.’’
“These are the guys who matter when it comes down to it,’’ he said, looking around the clubhouse at Safeco Field. “That’s the hardest part about the whole thing. If it was me, I could get over it. But it’s the guys in here. I don’t know how else to put it. It sucks. I don’t know what else to tell you other than it sucks.”
Guillen was again forced to defend why Viciedo’s arrival from Class AAA took so long. Right fielder Carlos Quentin’s injury created a 25-man roster spot that hadn’t been available.
“I don’t give a s--- what people say, except for Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams,’’ Guillen said.
“In the time they want that kid here, I don’t have any place for him. We have to make a trade or release somebody. I wasn’t in the position to say, ‘bring him up.’ I couldn’t play with 26 players.’’
Viciedo’s arrival allows Guillen more lineup flexibility and opens the door to sit Dunn, which he did against Mariners left-hander Jason Vargas.
“It was a great matchup for [Viciedo],’’ Guillen said. “It’s not a secret that this guy can play. Now that he’s here I will play him.’’
Viciedo, batting sixth, hit a bloop single to center his first at-bat. After his homer, he laid off two high pitches to draw a walk that preceded Tyler Flowers’ grand slam that gave the Sox a 7-0 lead in the sixth. Viciedo struck out in his last at-bat.
Asked about Viciedo’s homer, hitting coach Greg Walker opened his eyes wide with a “that was something special’’ look.
“We’ve always known this kid is a physical beast,’’ said Walker, who credited the staff at Charlotte — where Viciedo batted .294 with 20 homers — for cleaning up his swing. “No one has ever questioned his talent.’’
Not to put any pressure on the kid or anything, but, as Beckham said, “If we’re going to win [the division], we need that type of production.’’
“It was a perfect condition to come out here and do what I did,’’ Viciedo, said through a translator. “It feels really good.’’