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updated: 3/4/2014 7:55 PM

Maybe White Sox just showing Dunn their support

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  • Adam Dunn was the victim of some good-natured ribbing from his White Sox teammates Tuesday upon his return from the Academy Awards, and maybe there was a purpose to that ribbing.

    Adam Dunn was the victim of some good-natured ribbing from his White Sox teammates Tuesday upon his return from the Academy Awards, and maybe there was a purpose to that ribbing.
    Associated Press


Oh, no, I'm afraid that I might be going soft.

Either that or I'm afraid that 6-foot-6, 275-pound Adam Dunn will crush my head like a nutcracker crushes a walnut if I keep making wisecracks at his expense.

The problem is that I feel compassion for the White Sox' flailing designated hitter.

It was heartwarming to read reports out of Sox camp Tuesday that teammates had some fun with Dunn.

No, it wasn't the kind of fun that fans and the media have making jokes that turn Dunn into a punch line.

Instead the Sox rolled out a red carpet for Dunn when he returned from attending the Academy Awards.

(Dunn is an investor in best-picture nominee "Dallas Buyers Club" and played a small role in the film.)

The Sox' playful behavior toward Dunn is encouraging because it's what good teams do with one of their own who is battered outside the organization.

Any teammate can love Miguel Cabrera when he's on the way to being MVP or Clayton Kershaw when he's winning a Cy Young Award or even Adam Dunn when he's going well. More difficult is supporting a player when he's having a terrible go of it and hurting the team more than helping.

Three years ago Dunn had one of the worst years in baseball history -- in world history actually.

Men his size shouldn't hit .159 with 11 home runs when they're supposed to hit 100 points higher and 30 more homers.

Right then Sox fans had seen enough from someone in the first season of a four-year, $56 million contract.

Trade Dunn! Release Dunn! Tar Dunn! Feather Dunn! Be done with Dunn!

Any of those would have been fine with me, too. But we all sort of have ignored that Dunn didn't want to hit .159 and follow it up with .204 and .219 while being a strikeout machine.

If Dunn were a bad guy in the clubhouse or someone who cared more about being a movie star than a baseball star …

Well, if there were evidence that Dunn were either of those we all would be justified in being angry with him. Indications are that Dunn is a good teammate and still would rather win a home run title than an Oscar.

But we see that alarming number of strikeouts on his stats sheet and that mind-boggling number of dollars on his contract and can't reconcile the two.

Maybe Dunn's problem is that he comes across as too easygoing, is too respectful to the media that rip him and he doesn't throw punches or punch lines back at anyone.

After much consideration, I don't think I'm going soft. I'm just acknowledging that there are cases when things have become so bad for an athlete that railing at him isn't enjoyable anymore.

After all, Dunn didn't give himself a gigantic contract. Sox management did. Of course, maybe booing the player is in fact booing the front office.

Sure Dunn cashes paychecks with a lot of zeros and commas, and there are athletes who take the money and forget what they're supposed to do in return.

Dunn doesn't seem to be that guy. He's more likely a guy whose age, deficiencies and strikeouts have overwhelmed whatever positives he has left.

Dunn's teammates might believe that, too, which is why they chose to laugh with him over the Oscars rather than at him.

Maybe there's another motive: Maybe they want to make Dunn comfortable enough to muster a big, run-producing, lineup-bolstering season before he leaves town.

If that's possible it's possible only on a team that has fun the way the White Sox had fun with Adam Dunn on Tuesday.

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