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.

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

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Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

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Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."