When White Sox season ends, Adam Dunn will try to forget it
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com September 16, 2011 11:44PM
White Sox slugger Adam Dunn says he put too much pressure on himself when he began to struggle. | Jim Mone~AP
Updated: November 18, 2011 12:22AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Get your questions in now to Adam Dunn about his horrible season of a lifetime. When it’s over in 11 days, the subject will be closed.
“I want to take this season for what it’s worth, finish this out, go home and somehow erase this, pretend this never even happened,’’ Dunn told the Sun-Times on Friday. “That will be hard, but once the last out is made, I’m never going to talk about it again. Not during the offseason, not next season. Never again.’’
Dunn was in the lineup for the White Sox’ 7-6 loss Friday night against the Royals for the second time since Aug. 28. He fouled out to short right, flied to center and left field, walked and struck out for the 161st time this season, a number that matched his .161 average. Dave Nicholson holds the Sox’ record with 175 strikeouts in 1962, a mark Dunn might not reach only because of his reduced playing time.
“It’s something I realize I don’t like doing, that’s for sure,’’ he said of sitting on the bench. “I ain’t built for this. Sure, I understand it. I know I’ve done it to myself. This is the first time in my life, not just my career, that I haven’t played. And the one thing I’ve learned is it’s not fun. You’re here to play, and it’s hard. It just sucks.’’
One of baseball’s most prolific power hitters ever with seven consecutive seasons of 38 or more home runs — behind only Rafael Palmeiro in the record books and tied with Babe Ruth — Dunn’s streak has come to a stunning halt. He has 11 home runs and 40 RBI after driving in 100 or more runs in six of his last seven seasons.
Dunn knows he’s a major reason why the Sox, who signed him for four years and $56 million last December, are a sub-.500 team. He understands why he was a target of boo-bird fans’ wrath, which only added to the weight he felt on his broad shoulders.
“Be me,’’ he said. “Be me. As bad and unbelievable as it seems to people, imagine me. That’s what people don’t think about. As bad as it is for everyone to watch and be a part of, they’re not the ones actually doing it. I’m doing it. It’s terrible.’’
Dunn always thought the end was near, but it never came.
“This year, when everything started snowballing and getting worse and worse and worse, I started pressing more and more and more and more,’’ he said. “Next thing you know, I’m here.
“There are a few things I’ve learned from this. One is the more pressure I continued to put on myself . . . that ain’t me. I have to go out there and be relaxed and have fun. I lost that. And that’s a big reason why things snowballed into what it is now.’’
Early on during the slump, Dunn remained upbeat and loose. Gradually, the smiles ran away from his face. It didn’t help that family matters were weighing on him, too. Baseball became all work and no fun.
“Yeah, I lost that,’’ he said. “It’s hard to have fun when I suck. Even when I did suck [during slumps in years past], I still found ways to have fun. All I kept thinking about this year was, ‘Why am I doing this, why is this going on?’ ’’
As for the notion that Dunn, a former football player at the University of Texas and a skilled golfer and outdoorsman, doesn’t love the game — which stems from a comment from Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi that he later apologized for — he simply shrugs it off.
“I love football, and I love golf,’’ he said. “Love hunting. Love fishing. I love a lot of stuff. Unlike a lot of people who just love baseball or football or basketball. I actually love a lot of different things because I was able to do a lot of things and play more than one sport.’’
It has been tough to love baseball in 2011, and who can blame him? The good news is, it’s almost over. So is talking about it.
“People are going to want to, but that’s going to be over and done with,’’ Dunn said. “I am looking ahead.’’