Ballantini: Dunn worrying? Good chance hes not

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Ballantini: Dunn worrying? Good chance hes not

Friday, March 25, 2011
Posted: 1:20 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
The Chicago White Sox, All-In yet wheezing toward another pallid month of training wheels baseball, have just a week to turn cans into can-do.

Over the course of this prickly Cactus League season, in which the White Sox have clinched the distinction of being the final spring training team to reach double-digit wins, several worries have come and gone.

Mark Buehrles batting-practice fastballs melded with awful location to find the crafty lefty bruised and battered midway through spring, yet hes bounced back from four figures to hold a not-unbearable ERA of 5.54 heading into his final spring start.

Carlos Quentin was looking as lost in the batters box as he did in right field, taking enough sideline BP to slowly corkscrew himself into Glendales crusty earth, when hellfire met hulk-mania and he embarked on a 12-17 tear that included four doubles, three homers, and seven RBI.

Paul Konerko took an extra warm-up lap out of spring training, shooting for team honors in strikeouts, Mendoza Line tripping, and accidental standup triples, before regaining his stroke last week and easing his OPS to a more plausible .823.

Even young gun Chris Sale, sporting an ERA this spring (5.23) that would find him falling freely out of Rookie of the Year contention, nonetheless has maintained a future closerace rate of 6.5 strikeouts per walk.

But Adam Dunn, the Big Donkey turned Brawny lumberjack courtesy of a beard borne of boredom, has yet to give a slip to his spring training yips, slogging through a .616 OPS spring and a batting average still short of spitting distance of Mendoza (.190). While hes pocketed eight walks, hes whiffed an astounding 25 times in 18 games, with very modest run production numbers (one jack, three RBI).

Worry about Dunn is twofold. First, its that K-.431 this spring compared with an already-healthy .328 in his career. Second, its come with a power outage; in Dunns career, hes tapped out a round-tripper once every 14.1 at-bats, while this spring hes stuck at one per 58, and counting.

And yet, is anyone on the White Sox worried? Not really.

The great thing about Dunn is that, unlike Sale or even Quentin, hes a veteran whos been through countless slow starts in his career, so hes well inoculated against over thinking the process.

If I stressed out about it, Id have been out of this game years ago, Dunn said. The beginning of the season is always toughwell, I say always, Im going to try this year to change that, gol-lyIm not going to set myself up and say Im going to start slow, but whispers good chance.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is a bit jumpier in nature than Dunn, but is likewise unworried.

He reminds me a little bit of Jim Thome, Guillen said. This guy strikes out 100-plus, walks 100-plus, thats 250 times up without putting the ball in play, and still puts up a lot
of numbers. How they do it, I dont know.

Fans eyes pop out over home runs, but ask Dunn, and he could care less about the long ball.

Its not so much the homers; getting on base is No. 1 with me, Dunn says. If I can keep my on-base average .380-plus, thats my No. 1 goal of the year. Getting on base is going to equal runs. If I get on 40 of the time, were going to score some runs.

Thats exactly the way Guillen says it, although the manager has penned a quiet wish for 50 homers from Dunn this season.

I dont expect anything different from Adam, Guillen said. You get on base, youre going to give the team a chance to win. Thats why Im putting him at the top of the order, to give him more at bats and get him on base.

Dunn admits that last year, the Washington Nationals anemic offense forced him to change up his strategy. Tired of being stranded at second base, the slugger turned on his aggressivenessand wasnt much pleased with the results.

Last year was the first year I tried to swing a lot, and everything was about the same except my on-base, Dunn said. I feel like I wasnt on base last year. We needed to score runs in Washington. I dont know whats going to happen this year, but Im just going to let it freaking rip.

The numbers bear that out. Dunn isnt a slow starter, historically (his .982 OPS in 214 career MarchApril games is his highest of any month), but last year, the bookends of his season were miserable. In MarchApril he put up an .823 OPS, and wheezed to a .765 in SeptemberOctober. In 49 games over those two month, the Nats masher pushed across just 24 RBI.

It was locker mate Matt Thornton who offered an explanation for Dunns poor finish.

Its called being 25 games out in July, Thornton said. I went through it in 2007. Youre that far out that early, and its hard to keep your mind from drifting to the offseason. Theres nothing worse than struggling to find something to play for.

Clearly, Dunn wants results, and his inability to get untracked this March indicates some similar pressing. A cool customer who was granted automatic respect from teammates the minute he walked through the clubhouse door, the slugger is no different from any player on the fieldhe wants to fit in and not disappoint.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I know I have struggled early in the past, so I dont panic and say holy expletive, Im hitting .150 in April. It sucks, but that only means theres some damage coming in May, June, July, and August. Its hard to be patient when everybodys panicking, but it just takes five good months, so you can have a bad one.

Dunns forgetfulness about his past prowess out of the gate could just be a smart strategy against overreacting to the deep freeze slump that seems to plague every one of the Chicago 9 on a yearly basis. Theres a fair chance that in spite of some insipid spring numbers, Dunn will pile some of the smaller Hose on his shoulders early and slug the Chisox to some wins all on his own. Not that the Big Donkey is braying on it.

If I start out on fire, Ill freak, said the genial slugger. I dont know whatll happen--.400, here I come.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Scott Podsednik joins CSN's White Sox studio team

Scott Podsednik joins CSN's White Sox studio team

Scott Podsednik is making his return to Chicago.

The 2005 World Series hero will join CSN's TV team as an analyst alongside Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton on White Sox Pre/Postgame Live this season.

Podsednik's first broadcast will be Monday, April 3, the White Sox home opener against the Detroit Tigers. CSN coverage begins that day at 2 p.m.

"I've always loved this city so much and had some memorable years playing for the White Sox organization," Podsednik said. "I'm excited and looking forward to joining the great team at CSN Chicago." 

The 11-year MLB veteran will also be a part of the White Sox Talk podcasts throughout the season.

"Scott's impact during his time with the White Sox was immediately felt by fans throughout the city thanks to his strong work ethic and kind heart," said Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News & Original Content for CSN Chicago. "Scott did a terrific job in the booth for us filling in for Steve Stone during a number of games last season and it was very clear that adding him to our pre- and postgame shows with Chuck and Bill will only add to the expert coverage we deliver to our devoted White Sox fan base."

Podsednik spent parts of four seasons on the South Side, hitting .280 with 141 stolen bases in a White Sox uniform.

He was the tablesetter for that '05 championship team when he hit .290 with 59 stolen bases and 80 runs scored.

Scott Podsednik to join CSN's White Sox Pre/Postgame Live studio team

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Scott Podsednik to join CSN's White Sox Pre/Postgame Live studio team

Former White Sox standout to provide pre/postgame analysis (including the Home/Season Opener on Monday, April 3) for select games throughout the 2017 season with host Chuck Garfien and analyst Bill Melton;

Podsednik to also make regular appearances on “SportsTalk Live,” “In the Loop,” and CSNChicago.com’s “White Sox Talk” podcasts

Chicago, IL (March 30, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the 2017 Chicago White Sox, has announced former White Sox standout and 2005 World Series hero Scott Podsednik will join CSN’s White Sox Pregame Live presented by The Kowalis Family of Dealerships and Subaru White Sox Postgame Live as an additional studio analyst on a number of select games this season.  Podsednik will team up with veteran CSN White Sox Pre/Postgame Live host Chuck Garfien and analyst/White Sox legend Bill Melton throughout the 2017 MLB season.  The announcement was made by Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News & Original Content for CSN Chicago. 

Podsednik’s first CSN appearance will take place on Monday, April 3 for the White Sox HOME/SEASON OPENER against the AL Central division rival Detroit Tigers (NOTE: CSN’s Opening Day coverage begins with an expanded, remote edition of White Sox Pregame Live presented by The Kowalis Family of Dealerships LIVE from Guaranteed Rate Field beginning at 2:00 PM CT).  In addition to his White Sox studio analyst duties, Podsednik will also make select appearances on CSN’s weeknight sports discussion program, SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado, on the early edition of In the Loop presented by Comcast Business, and on CSNChicago.com’s popular “White Sox Talk” podcasts presented by Wintrust.

“I’ve always loved this city so much and had some memorable years playing for the White Sox organization,” said Podsednik.  “I’m excited and looking forward to joining the great team at CSN Chicago.”

“Scott’s impact during his time with the White Sox was immediately felt by fans throughout the city thanks to his strong work ethic and kind heart,” added Cross. “Scott did a terrific job in the booth for us filling in for Steve Stone during a number of games last season and it was very clear that adding him to our pre- and post-game shows with Chuck and Bill will only add to the expert coverage we deliver to our devoted White Sox fan base.”

Podsednik, a standout defensive outfielder and perennial base stealing threat, played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, including four years in a White Sox uniform (2005-07, 2009).  In his first season with the White Sox, Podsednik was a key factor in helping the team win its first World Series title in 88 years, thanks in part to his unforgettable 9th inning walk-off home run in Game 2, which was just his second HR all season long.  In his 11-year MLB career, which included stints with the Mariners, Brewers, White Sox, Rockies, Royals, Dodgers, and Red Sox, Podsednik compiled a .281 career batting average with 42 HR’s, 312 RBI, and 309 stolen bases.