Adam Dunn's was not a done deal with White Sox
There are bad free agent signings. And then there is Adam Dunn.
Dunn looked like a sure thing when the Chicago White Sox signed him to a US$56 million (Dh205.7m), four-year deal last winter.
He had been one of the most consistent power hitters in recent years, with eight successive seasons of at least 38 home runs.
He was expected to form a formidable middle-of-the-order, left-right duo with Paul Konerko, a one-two punch that was expected to thrive in Chicago's hitter-friendly US Cellular Field.
But two-thirds of the way through his first season with the White Sox, the Dunn deal is an unmitigated disaster.
He is hitting just .167, which, unless he shows dramatic improvement, will leave him with one of the lowest averages for a full-time player in the last century.
Then there are the strikeouts, which are piling up at a record pace. Dunn, like a lot of home-run hitters, always struck out a lot in his previous stops in Cincinnati, Arizona and Washington.
But with 139 strikeouts in the first four months plus a few days, he seems a certainty to go over 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career. Dunn thought he might have difficulty adjusting to the role of designated hitter - he played the outfield and first base with his three previous NL teams - but no one imagined it would be this bad.
Dunn recently said he is contemplated retirement, but with more than $44m coming to him over the three seasons, that seems highly unlikely.
On this much, everyone can agree: this has been a painful year to watch.
"I want to cry," Ozzie Guillen, the White Sox manager, told reporters recently. "A lot of swings and misses. It gets to the point when you struggle that bad, you just want to put the ball in play."
Dunn's not doing that often, as the strikeout totals suggest. And against left-handed pitching, Dunn is completely overmatched, with just three hits in 77 at-bats, a batting average of .039.
"The crazy thing," Dunn told USA Today, "is I feel good, I'm not hurt or anything, but I can't get the results. I don't know what's going on. I don't feel like I'm putting pressure on myself, I really don't. Maybe subconsciously I am. I don't know."
Guillen has tried everything from benching him to moving him around in the batting order. Nothing has worked and both he and Dunn are running out of things to try, because one thing that is not close to running out is Dunn's contract.
Published: August 7, 2011 04:00 AM