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updated: 1/29/2012 7:30 AM

Dunn determined to bounce back from 2011

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  • Adam Dunn batted .159 with a .292 on-base percentage and club record 177 strikeouts last season.

      Adam Dunn batted .159 with a .292 on-base percentage and club record 177 strikeouts last season.
    Associated Press, August 2011


Much has been made of the White Sox' rebuilding process this off-season.

Check that, the Sox "retooled," according to general manager Kenny Williams' early assessment.

At SoxFest on Friday, Williams acknowledged that the club did lose key players like Mark Buehrle, Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos but locked up John Danks to a long-term deal while adding a slew of young pitching prospects, headed by Nestor Molina.

So he called the rebuilding project a "hybrid."

At SoxFest on Saturday, Adam Dunn said fans should be fired up by two unreported roster additions.

"We made two pretty good moves this off-season," Dunn said. "That was hopefully getting me and Alex (Rios) back. That's the way I'm looking at it. We pretty much have the same team.

"We lost a couple of key players. We have guys capable of stepping in and filling that role and do a little better. That's what we're expecting."

Last season, Dunn started as the White Sox' No. 3 hitter and Rios hit behind cleanup man Paul Konerko in the No. 5 spot.

The trio was expected to carry the offense and slug the Sox into the playoffs, but only Konerko held up his end with 31 home runs and 105 RBI.

Dunn and Rios? They combined for 24 home runs and 86 RBI, a decent overall season for a No. 6 or 7 hitter.

Equally awful, Dunn batted .159 with a .292 on-base percentage and club record 177 strikeouts.

Rios batted .227 with a .265 on-base percentage. He also hit .171 with runners in scoring position and was 1-for-13 with the bases loaded.

No wonder Ozzie Guillen is now managing the Miami Marlins and Greg Walker is the Atlanta Braves' new hitting coach.

So, yes, much bigger things are expected from Dunn and Rios this season, mainly because the duo can't possibly be any worse than they were in 2011.

Williams might have delivered the best quote of SoxFest when asked to look ahead to the new season.

"Good starting pitching, good bullpen," the GM said. "Defensively, I think we're pretty good. Bottom line, if we hit we're competing in the division. If we don't, we won't. Period."

And exclamation point.

Dunn looked to be in good shape Saturday, and he is determined to come back and be the same hitter that terrorized National League pitchers for a decade.

The 32-year-old designated hitter Texan has been swinging the bat back home in Houston, but Dunn was not anxious to offer any specific details.

"I don't want to get into it," Dunn said. "I really don't want to, to be honest with you. We're doing some good things. I'm ready now, and we've got a month to go. I feel really ready for spring training when it comes."

The White Sox' first full-squad workout under new manager Robin Ventura is Feb. 28, so Dunn still has time to do some fine tuning.

In winters past, Dunn rarely picked up a bat until training camp. But after falling 6 plate appearances short of posting the lowest batting average in major league history, something had to change.

Dunn has always been able to turn the page at the end of a season and move forward, but this year was different.

"The first week (after the season) was probably the greatest week, I don't want to say of my life because that would be a lie," Dunn said. "But it was much needed. After about a week, I was ready to get back to doing stuff. I thought I wouldn't. But it was just a lot harder than I thought it would be. I thought I'd be able to go back home and blow it off and forget about it.

"I wasn't able to do that. But at this point right now, it's over. As soon as it was New Year's Eve, when I was in bed at 12:01 like everyone, that's a new year."

What exactly went wrong for Dunn last season?

Well, he changed leagues and faced an arguably better brand of pitching. He didn't adjust to being the DH after playing first base and the outfield in the NL. He went into a shell when White Sox fans booed his every at-bat.

Williams believes the appendectomy Dunn had early in the season set up the downfall.

Dunn had his appendix removed April 6 and missed just six games.

"He never got it going," Williams said. "If I had to do one thing over, one singular thing over from last year, I would have sat him out a week longer, at least, after he had the surgery and got him some at-bats in the minor leagues to get his stroke back. I take the responsibility for that."

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