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updated: 4/21/2013 10:06 PM

Rongey: White Sox need Dunn to be Dunn

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  • White Sox DH/first baseman Adam Dunn ended an extended slump Sunday with a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning.

      White Sox DH/first baseman Adam Dunn ended an extended slump Sunday with a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning.
    Associated Press

 
 

Before we get into the actual baseball stuff, I'd like to offer an aside.

I have two favorite aspects of my job:

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First, I get to watch baseball every day, and at least half of the year, I get to be there in person.

There aren't a whole lot of people in the country who have the chance to be at 81 live baseball games per season, not even many of the season-ticket holders. They, too, have other obligations on occasion. My "obligation" is to be there.

And, second, I get to talk to drunk people on the phone. (I bet you don't get to do that. Too bad for you.)

Now, over the weekend I had the chance to interact with my first real inebriate of the season (I think). It was wonderful.

Though he spent 40 percent of the call directing his grandson not to drive so fast, Bob was cordial and he taught me two important lessons: "Jake Peavy is a man's man" and if you plan to "have a couple" at the game, always have a designated driver. Even if it's your 17-year-old grandkid.

Also, slow down, Kyle.

As for the team, the most frequent current questions I'm fielding are in regard to the meager start from Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn. What to do with him? Should he bat lower in the order? Should he be benched?

In terms of his spot in the lineup, you may see him move down a place or two, but even if that does happen, it doesn't address the real problem.

Quite honestly, I think most observers miss the point entirely when it comes to situations like this.

If Dunn is struggling as he is now, with an OPS of just .367 (for reference, he was .857 on April 22 last year, and .620 in that miserable season in 2011), the issue is that he's failing to produce.

It's not about where he is in the lineup. It's about what he's doing or not doing and what the team is missing.

When acquired, Dunn was asked to replicate something like a typical Adam Dunn season: an average near .240, on-base percentage over .360, .860 OPS, and 38-40 home runs, which isn't too much to expect.

Clearly, any team that acquired him would be counting on that sort of production when it constructed the lineup. So, imagine now that player has been replaced with a guy hitting .098 with an OBP of .154 and slugging just better than .200.

It doesn't matter all that much where he's hitting. What matters is that the team he's on now has a player who has lost hundreds of percentage points of average, on-base percentage and slugging.

And since a hitter penciled into the lineup cannot be avoided, that's a major blow to the offense.

So, should they bench him? I don't think so. At least not an extended benching, and at least not yet. Though a day off or two to clear his head may not hurt.

Should he abandon his new aggressive approach? Seeing as how hitters can only do what they're comfortable doing, only he can decide that. And I'm not sure when the time for that will be right. So far, though, the approach hasn't worked.

The bottom line is that they need Adam Dunn to be Adam Dunn, otherwise they're missing a significant force in their order. And I think they'll give him time to be that.

•Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.

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