Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: Dunn's DH dilemma

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Sox Drawer: Dunn's DH dilemma

Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011
Posted 6:30 p.m. Updated 6:56 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Being a designated hitter seems like the easiest job in sports.

Swing the bat. Sit down. Swing the bat. Sit down. Innings one through nine. April through October. How tough can it be?

Ask Adam Dunn.

The Sox 56 million dollar slugger is a 6-foot-6 beast of a man who destroys baseballs for a living. But get his thoughts on how he'll adjust to his new role as full-time DH, and the 285-pounder shrinks to about half the size.

I have no idea, Dunn said on Saturday, speaking frankly in front of his locker, his first day of spring training. Thats going to be something thats going to be my biggest challenge to find out how to keep myself warm and in the game and not be in the field.

In 10 major league seasons (all in the National League), Dunn has played over 1,000 games in the outfield, 336 at first base, but only 18 as designated hitter during interleague play.

It will definitely be an adjustment. Ive talked with some people who have done it. Well figure it out some way, if I have to put a bike in the dugout I will. I dont know what else people do.

Dunn has already spoken with longtime Cleveland Indians DH Travis Hafner for advice, not to mention White Sox legend Frank Thomas, who logged 1,310 games as a designated hitter during his 19-year career.

"I told him the key is to just stay mentally in touch with the entire game. That's it," Thomas said.

I guess easier said than done. Or Dunn.

Saturday, Dunn put on his White Sox practice uniform for the first time and headed out to the batting cage.

First swing of the year! he shouted.

By year, Dunn was clearly referring to the 2011 season. I mean, he does pick up a bat during the off-season, doesn't he?

Lets see, Dunn replied when asked after his hitting session. He paused a moment for dramatic affect before delivering the surprise of the day with a smile:

I dont.

Seriously?

Ive tried it both ways, Dunn explained. Ive tried hitting around Thanksgiving. I just feel like it works better for me, because Im going to get in bad habits hitting by myself so its good to come a few days early and lube it up. You got 40 days down here, usually it takes a hitter about two weeks.

When I asked Ozzie Guillen about Dunns off-season regiment, the White Sox manager nodded his head in agreement.

I like when the players do that. They dont do that much in the off-season and they come to spring training ready to work. I think thats the way I did it. I think its easier because you have a month and a half to get ready and sometimes you overdo stuff," said Guillen, who plans for Dunn to play some first base, but mainly DH.

Sharing a clubhouse with names like Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, and Alex Rios, the burly 285-pounder feels like he belted a home run back in December when he signed with the White Sox. He says this is already the best team hes ever played on, even before theyve played a game.

Definitely, Dunn said. No disrespect to the teams Ive been on, but this is a complete team. These guys have proven they were a great team before I got here. Hopefully I can put them over the edge.

Clean-up hitters are known to gain a ton of attention, especially when your body is twice the size of the average human being. So when the season begins, and he digs in at home plate, Dunn knows hell be the target of a red-hot spotlight, one that can burn a mans cornea.

But not his.

I dont avoid (the pressure). I embrace it. I have extremely high expectations for myself. If people dont have high expectations for me, then Im not doing something right. I embrace the pressure, I embrace the role. Im definitely going to put a lot of pressure on myself.

Swinging the bat? That's the easy part.

What to do while not swinging? He's trying to figure that out.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

By the numbers: Lucas Giolito showed impressive control in White Sox debut

By the numbers: Lucas Giolito showed impressive control in White Sox debut

Lucas Giolito didn't pick up a win in his White Sox debut, but there were plenty of encouraging signs. 

At the top of that list has to be his control, which was an issue that plagued the Sox No. 6 prospect in the past

Here's a closer look at his precision last night against the Twins: 

0 - Maybe the most important number of all. Giolito did not walk a single batter. 

- Giolito hit one Twin. It was Brian Dozier on the first at-bat of the game. First-game nerves? We'll chalk it up to that. 

64 - Giolito hurled 64 strikes out of 99 pitches, resulting in a strike percentage above league average

[MORE: Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut drew rave reviews

A fair number of those strikes the 23-year-old threw were hit hard, though. CSN's Dan Hayes noted the exit velocities against Giolito in the first inning: 

Although he got out of that inning unscathed, Minnesota did get to the right-hander: 

- The number of dingers slammed off Giolitio. 

The exit velocities on those, according to MLB Exit Velocity

98.9 - Jorge Polanco's fourth inning homer.

105.5 - Kennys Vargas' fifth inning homer.

104.3 - Eddie Rosario's sixth inning homer. 

All of the homers hit were on fastballs, which was his go-to pitch according to Hayes. Here's a look at his pitch selection: 

69 - Fastballs

16 - Changeups

12 - Curveballs

The bottom line: 

4 - Earned runs Giolito gave up. 

Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut drew rave reviews

Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut drew rave reviews

Lucas Giolito’s first outing may not have netted the outcome the White Sox hoped for, but the look and feel was most definitely there.

The team’s sixth-ranked prospect showed just how much progress he’s made the over the entire season and in particular the last six weeks in his White Sox debut on Tuesday night.

Giolito was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte early Tuesday and looked poised and confident for six innings despite a heavy reliance on the fastball because his curve wasn’t where he wanted. While he yielded three home runs in a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Giolito and the White Sox liked what they saw.

“Excellent,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I thought it was a very positive outing.

“Lucas I thought threw the ball very, very well. Fastball was very good. He was using his breaking ball. He threw some that were a little short. But all and all, I thought his mound presence, his attack of the strike zone -- I don’t think he walked anybody, he threw a lot of strikes -- he looked very, very good to me. Very pleased.”

Once the top pitching prospect in baseball, Giolito had lost a little bit of the shine even by the time he was traded to the White Sox last December in the Adam Eaton deal. He struggled at times during a nomadic 2016 campaign with the Nationals -- he was moved seven times in all -- and saw a dip in fastball velocity as his mechanics got out of whack.

Though excited by the trade to the White Sox, Giolito admitted in spring training he wasn’t quite where he yet wanted to be. He struggled early this season at Triple-A Charlotte, posting a 5.40 ERA in his first 16 starts and often failed to pitch deep into games.

But along the way Giolito found his confidence, rediscovered his curveball and began to pitch more consistently. That was the pitcher the White Sox saw on Tuesday night, the one who despite not having his entire arsenal didn’t panic.

Working almost entirely with his fastball -- 69 of his 99 pitchers were four-seamers -- Giolito pitched at a quick pace and got into a rhythm. Giolito got 10 swings and misses, including eight with the fastball, and didn’t walk anyone.

“I felt relaxed,” Giolito said. “I felt confident the whole time.

“I feel like tonight I was able to control the game a lot better. Last year my time in the big leagues the game would speed up on me a lot. I’d walk a guy, give up a couple of base hits and start to kind of get out of control. Tonight, I felt under control, I was able to trust my stuff, it was just those mistakes.”

Giolito’s outing wasn’t perfect. He tried to go inside with fastballs three times and left them over the middle. Jorge Polanco blasted a game-tying solo homer off Giolito in the fourth, Kennys Vargas hit one off him in the fifth and Eddie Rosario hit a two-run, opposite-field shot in the sixth.

[MORE: White Sox may have discovered 'diamond in the rough' in Juan Minaya

But that he was effective enough to keep the White Sox in the game in spite of his offense, which blew bases-loaded opportunities in the second and third innings, and minus all of his pitches wasn’t lost on Omar Narvaez. Narvaez liked how Giolito competed and the way he spotted his fastball in and out, up and down.

“I think he’s going to be one of our best pitchers,” Narvaez said. “His fastball is kind of sneaky and he has a great changeup. He uses it whenever he wants to and he has a really, really good curveball.

“He made a lot of good pitches (with the fastball). Every time we worked behind he just came back with the fastball.”

Giolito threw his curveball 12 times and used the changeup 16. While he induced a few groundballs with his curve, Giolito wasn’t as effective in two-strike situations, spiking the pitch in front of the plate. Even so, Giolito felt good about what he accomplished and that’s great for the White Sox.

“I feel like I belong,” Giolito said. “I feel like my stuff plays. I’m happy I didn’t walk anyone tonight. I was able to command the fastball pretty well, but fastball-changeup was pretty much all I had. I wasn’t throwing the curveball as well as I would have liked, but I’m going to work on that for the next start and hopefully be able to command that pitch a little better.”