GEORGE CASTLE: Who’s No 1? More importantly, who’s No. 3 in Sox lineup?

2012-07-24T16:24:00Z 2012-07-25T01:12:17Z GEORGE CASTLE: Who’s No 1? More importantly, who’s No. 3 in Sox lineup?George Castle On the White Sox nwitimes.com
July 24, 2012 4:24 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Adam Dunn’s major-league-leading 30 homers, a year after he endured the worst season ever by an everyday player, says most of it.

But not all.

After the recent team hitting slump cost the White Sox first place, Dunn has to be moved out of the No. 3 position in the lineup.

That declaration comes after another Dunn blast that touched off a four-run seventh Tuesday. The uprising preceded a five-run eighth, powering the Sox to an 11-4 win against the Minnesota Twins to push them back into a first-place tie with the Detroit Tigers.

Moving Dunn is an adjustment almost all teams make during a long season. Yet move is one manager Robin Ventura has declined so far — and undoubtedly will push further into the future after Dunn’s uncommon three-hit spree Tuesday.

Keep Dunn’s record-pace of strikeouts out of the equation. He just does not get enough hits other than his distance classics to be an effective No. 3 hitter, which is usually a team’s best all-around offensive athlete.

He cannot be all power, with little intermediate or short game, and effectively keep the line moving at No. 3. Dunn has just 29 singles and 12 doubles (including a two-run eighth-inning blow) besides his homer total. Dipping close to .200 before Tuesday’s little burst, down from a more typical Dunn .237 mark at the end of May, just doesn’t cut it at No. 3.

The Big Donkey admitted he’s not a “prototypical No. 3 hitter.”

Ventura concurred.

Yet we’re not asking either to conjure up Dunn’s ideal No. 3 guy.

“It would be Junior (Griffey) in his heyday," Dunn said. "A lefty, obviously power, could run, that’s what I would have.”

The switch is right there on the roster. Manager-Columnist suggests switching Dunn with No. 5 guy Alex Rios.

Going into Tuesday, Rios (.375) ranked fourth in the AL with runners-in-scoring position. Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez (.352) were tied for eighth.

Since May 23, Rios — actually out-distancing Dunn on sheer long-ball length — was hitting .344, also fourth in the AL in that span, along with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs. He can also steal a few bases. That screams “best offensive athlete.”

Rios believes in keeping the batting order unchanged. But he also has personal history that suggests the lineup promotion. He hit No. 3 in Toronto, “even fourth for a little bit."

“It doesn’t change the way you hit that much,” Rios said of moving in the lineup. “You just have to know who you have hitting behind you, and make the adjustments to that. Depending on who you have, they’re going to pitch to you or not pitch to you.”

They’d pitch to Rios, for sure, with Konerko to follow, and Dunn after him. And Ventura would still have the combination he desires — just in a different, more logical order.

“You get as many guys bunched together who are professional hitters, you see what you get out of them,” said Ventura.

No advocate of change, Dunn believed “people put way too much stock in where people hit in the lineup. It’s overrated.”

But with his all-or-nothing style, lineup placement becomes more critical on the South Side. Ventura should try the Dunn-Rios flip-flop. He might like it.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at DGemsNet@aol.com.

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