When he was introduced at a Saturday seminar at SoxFest, Adam Dunn heard the strangest sound coming from White Sox fans:
Quite a difference from last season when Dunn's theme song became a chorus of boos that cascaded throughout U.S. Cellular Field for weeks as he batted .159 with 177 strikeouts. Maybe the room was filled with optimistic Sox fans, maybe they're willing to give him a second chance or maybe they were just saving their boos for when the new season begins.
I couldn't really tell.
Either way Dunn is hoping to put his lost 2011 campaign behind him.
"Hopefully Im going in this year feeling as good as Ive felt in a long time and just ready to get started and quit talking about it," Dunn told reporters. I thought itd be a lot easier. I thought Id be able to go through the offseason like Whatever, its over, like I do everything else. I wasnt quite able to do that because, for one, you couldnt go anywhere without people like, What happened? Whats wrong? Basically looking for me to make an excuse or something. That ain't happening."
Considering all of the criticism from fans and media over the last eight months, give Dunn credit for coming to SoxFest to face the music. He was open and honest, even telling the fans at the seminar that things got so bad last season that his wife asked him if he should consider switching sides in the batter's box and try hitting right-handed.
Some people might subscribe to the theory that you need to fail to succeed in life, believing that the season Dunn just experienced might help him in the long run. However, Dunn is not one of those people.
"I dont buy into the you need to fail,' all that stuff," Dunn said. "Like when everyone said the (Green Bay) Packers needed to lose a game to go into the playoffs. Why? You want to win them all. I want to be as good as I can every single year for 20 years or for however long I play.
"It doesnt matter where you go, everyone is talking about last year. I realize that comes with that, but I really cant wait for Opening Day.
Towards the end of last season, Dunn spotted White Sox announced Hawk Harrelson in the parking lot and told Harrelson that his goal was to win the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2012. But Dunn knows he's not the only one who needs a bounceback year.
We made two pretty good moves, I think, this offseason," he said. "That was hopefully getting me and Alex Rios back. Thats the way Im looking at it. We pretty much have the same team. We lost a couple of key players. We have guys capable of stepping in and filling that role and do a little better. Thats what were expecting.
Dunn says he doesn't weigh himself every morning, but judging by his appearance he did lose a lot of weight, mainly in the mid-section.
Now the wait begins for Dunn to go out and prove himself to a White Sox fan base that was let down in 2011.
"As soon as New Year's Eve when I was in bed at 12:01 like everyone else," Dunn said with a smile. "That's a new year."
If there's anyone who needed a new year, it was him. Now it's here. Hopefully a new chapter begins.