Ozzie's daring move | Bleader

Ozzie's daring move

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Adam Dunn is still missing on all cylinders. With just under a third of the season gone, the Big Breeze is more than a third of the way to the White Sox club record for strikeouts in a season—he has 65 already, and the record is 175. He’s managed to stay ahead of the record pace and lead the AL in Ks even though he missed six games because of an appendectomy. (While in the hospital the Big Breeze sought to strike out by absentee ballot, but the commissioner ruled against it.)

Dunn’s average is only .186 now, but he’s been hitting in hard luck. Most of his strikeouts have been right at somebody.

Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has stood behind his struggling slugger, showing him the patience a wise manager always shows his $56 million players. But he and the Big Breeze view the problem differently.

“Dunn, like everyone else when they struggle, is swinging at bad pitches,” Ozzie told reporters this week.

“I would like to blame it on swinging at bad pitches, but I’m not doing that,” Dunn said a few days later.

He told reporters he’d tried everything, even different models and colors of bats. He’s whiffing in every make and hue. The Tribune mentioned that Dunn has also been studying videotapes. We recommend Contact, with Jodie Foster, over Missing, with Jack Lemmon.

Tuesday night, Ozzie finally dropped him in the order, from third to fifth—two steps in the right direction, when seven may be needed. Ozzie did keep Dunn out of the starting lineup Wednesday afternoon. It was hardly a tough decision; a lefty was on the hill for Texas, and sending Dunn to the plate against southpaws is like sending Sarah Palin to a Mensa competition. The Big Breeze began the day with 31 at bats against lefties this season, in which he'd amassed 13 Ks and no hits. This would make his batting average against lefties roughly .000.

The Sox trailed 2-1 late in that Wednesday game, but they threatened in the eighth, putting the tying run on third and the lead run on first with one out. A right-hander was now pitching for the Rangers, but southpaw relievers were looming. Ozzie, figuring it time for one of his counterintuitive moves, told Dunn to bat for Brent Morel. The Rangers’ manager summoned a southpaw beer vendor from the crowd, Dunn was soon 0 for 32 against lefties with 14 Ks, and victory had been averted.

Bolstered by the faith his manager had shown in him, the Big Breeze played with renewed confidence last night. He fanned on all four trips to the plate, but he did so with more authority. Ozzie said after the game he'd drop Dunn in the lineup another two notches.

So far: 45 games, 156 ABs, 65 Ks.

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