SEATTLE -- With A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis gone, the White Sox certainly have fewer home run hitters on the roster this season.
But even with those two long departed, replaced by Tyler Flowers and the combination of Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger, White Sox hitters feel as if they still possess some lethal lumber in the middle of the order.
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Based on their most recent results, when the team went 71 innings and 256 at-bats in between homers, you might have a tough time arguing that point. But the White Sox biggest bopper won’t concede that the makeup of the offense has shifted, not with two 400-homer guys in the lineup and another two who hit at least 25 homers last season.
Still, even Adam Dunn has difficulty explaining the team’s homerless streak, one he ended in the second inning on Tuesday night. Prior to that round-tripper, the White Sox hadn’t hit one since Dunn blasted one the opposite way on May 26 at U.S. Cellular Field.
“Maybe I’m in loser denial, but I still feel like we’re a really good offense and it’s just not producing,” Dunn said. “How do you say we’re not a home-run hitting team? How many guys do we have that have hit 20 or more (in a season) in the big leagues? We’re just not hitting. You can’t put a finger on it. We’re just not producing.”
Hitting coach Jeff Manto thinks part of the reason is the White Sox have fewer home run hitters on the roster. To ask Keppinger and Gillaspie to take that approach would be to take them out of their games.
Even so, the White Sox still have Dunn, Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo, all of whom had 25 or more homers last season.
But through 56 games, the White Sox have hit only 53 homers and are on pace for 153 this season. The team ranks 13th in the American League after it finished 2012 with 211 homers, which ranked third in the AL. The last player to homer other than Dunn was Paul Konerko, on May 22.
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Manto, however, has faith his sluggers will get going once again and is encouraged by some of the signs he saw in Tuesday’s loss.
“Our home run hitting guys haven’t been hitting home runs,” Manto said. “That’s the way it goes. Yet when we start hitting them, it’ll be in bunches…Those are the kinds of things we take a lot of stock in, are we getting better? It appears our bats are getting better. We want the results and the wins, but our at-bats are getting better and we’re just going to keep moving forward. There’s no reason to look anywhere else but forward.”
Dunn admits it’s getting hard to look back constantly. But he also believes the homer-drought isn’t part of this roster’s DNA.
“That’s weird because we’ve got guys who can hit the ball out the park,” Dunn said. “You almost get sick and tired of talking about it because there’s no excuses to be made. We’re just not getting it done.”