CHICAGO | Three weeks ago, Adam Dunn hit around .100 and wasn’t much better talking about it.
On Monday night, he freely analyzed the pitches he’s recently powdered to all fields.
Maybe this is as simple as two plus two equals four. More likely, and a bit more complicated, the mind at ease is a powerful ignitor.
If it’s the latter, it went a long way in explaining Dunn’s fifth homer in his last seven games in the first inning. On a 2-0 pitch, he pulled a three-run blast to right against Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester. Dunn has 13 RBIs in that span.
“People look at mechanics and think that’s just it,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It has to be a combination of feeling good with mechanics and having a clear mind, and feeling positive when you’re swinging the bat.
“Sometimes mechanical stuff makes you feel better at the plate. Looking at him, you wouldn’t see a noticeable difference in anything. He’s not wide open or really closed.”
We know Dunn maybe has tried too much tinkering with his approach starting in spring training after falling into old, 2011 habits the final two months of 2012 after a productive first 2/3 of the season.
He would swing early in the count rather than wait out pitchers, a career-long strength. Lately he has almost imperceptibly moved his hands up on the bat.
“If anything, it’s a small alteration of raising them a tad,” Dunn said. “You probably can’t notice by watching, but it’s a small adjustment.”
Obviously he’s jumped on the slight change. And his kids, on whom he dotes in the clubhouse, just arrived from Houston after the older two boys finished their school year. Daughter MacKenzie, born in the offseason, will watch Dad play for the first time.
Dunn’s comfort zone can’t get any bigger than that combination.
The Dunn in the ditch going into May was a shadow of his old 6-foot-6 menacing self of the mid-2000s. Back then he could hit with power to all fields, including frequently to left-center and center. Managers could live with his strikeouts with the 440-foot homers coming regularly.
“He can hit the ball as far as anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster, who dueled Dunn many years while a Cub. “He can hit balls (left-handed) like a right-handed pull hitter.”
“When you’re feeling good, you obviously can do those things,” Sox right fielder Alex Rios said. “When you’re struggling, it’s hard to hit the ball to all fields. The last thing you’re thinking about is hitting the ball to one spot. When you’re struggling, you have so many things on your mind.”
Maybe now Dunn’s cleared out all the mental hubris. That means the Sox can hit themselves up to the affable Big Donkey and be pulled out of their morass.