Don’t look now, but Adam Dunn is hitting well enough to get himself traded.
His defense at first base almost cost the White Sox on Thursday, but another big offensive day sparked a 3-2 victory over the Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field.
Dunn has been on a roll since June, and he capped a 3-hit day Thursday with a walk-off home run against Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter.
“The things we’ve been working on since spring training are just kind of paying off now,” Dunn said. “Like I said from Day One, I’ve been feeling pretty good all year. I just wasn’t getting any results.”
Dunn is never going to win a batting title, no shock there. But he has re-established himself as one of baseball’s premier power hitters and run producers with 11 home runs and 29 RBI since June 1.
Dunn’s lengthy surge at the plate should mean he has value to a team looking for some offensive help while having the financial means to absorb a large chunk of the $22.5 million the 33-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is owed through next season.
The Yankees always are rumored to be big-time buyers, and that is the case again this year in advance of the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.
With first baseman Mark Teixeira (wrist) and third baseman Kevin Youkilis (back) likely done for the season, and shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez still out, it’s somewhat amazing New York is contending in the American League East.
The Yankees are eyeing a potent bat or two before the trade deadline, and Dunn makes sense.
He continued to make good contact Thursday, going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI while raising his batting average to .207. That’s still last in the AL among qualified hitters, but Dunn was batting .156 on the last day of May.
He was traded from Cincinnati to Arizona in 2008 and was nearly dealt from Washington to the White Sox in 2010 before he landed on the South Side the following season with a four-year, $56 million free-agent contract.
If Dunn keeps hitting, expect the trade rumors to increase.
“That’s part of it,” said Dunn, who made an error in the eighth inning that helped Baltimore rally from a 2-0 deficit. “You can’t sit here and worry about it. It’s not something you can avoid. It’s part of the game, and we’re not idiots. We know what’s going on.
“But again, you can’t worry about it. You’ve got to do what you do on the field and let that stuff take care of itself.”
On the field, Dunn said his ability to make solid contact has fueled the recent surge.
“The one thing, if anything, that’s stayed really consistent is my approach at the plate,” he said. “The big difference between now and then is I’m not fouling a lot of balls off like I was early, and for the most part I’m not swinging at too many bad pitches.”
Dunn also is shortening up his swing at times and using the whole field instead of always swinging hard and trying to pull every pitch over the right-field fence.
“Once he’s hitting the ball the other way, he’s dangerous,” manager Robin Ventura said after the White Sox won two of three from the Orioles. “He’s dangerous anytime he goes up there, but again, just the quality of the at-bats is great to see.
“He’s walking, not striking out quite as much; everybody’s going to strike out, but he’s putting it in play with some authority.
“Anytime he’s going the other way, hitting it hard, I think that just spreads that defense a little more because they play that shift. This is a good stretch for him.”
If he keeps it going, Dunn could be gone by the end of the month. Over the first two months of the season, the left-handed slugger’s trade value was all but nonexistent.
Dunn said he’s not ready to “write off” the rest of the season, and he will continue to concentrate on helping the Sox win games.
“When you’re getting results, your confidence is high,” he said. “I try to keep an even keel, going good, going bad.
“I know how this game is. Just when you think everything is going right, it slaps you right in the face. (Hitting coach) Jeff (Manto) and I will continue to what we’ve been doing since Day One, and hopefully we can maintain it.”
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