Dunn looking to right the ship

Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn is coming off a disastrous 2011 campaign in which he batted just .159 and struck out 177 times. The designated hitter has gotten himself into better shape this offseason, and he's hoping 2012 is a season of redemption.

Adam Dunn insisted at the end of last season that talking about his disastrous .159 batting average and 177 strikeouts in 2011 would be off-limits heading into 2012.

Last week showed that escaping his past, especially since it was his debut season with the White Sox, is easier said than done.

"At the end of the season, my deal was to remove myself completely from it," but I found that I couldn't," Dunn said in a telephone interview with the Sun-Times.

"For a week and a half, I removed myself from everything, but it's hard to remove yourself from your job. That's your job. I didn't do it like I thought I would do, but that's good. I feel great. I'm fine. It's over."

The question that the White Sox, as well as their fan base, have been waiting to hear answered, however, is what kind of shape Dunn got himself in this offseason.

That was the big rip on him last spring, when he showed up for camp out of shape and admitting that he didn't pick up a bat during the winter.

There were several members of the White Sox organization who said Dunn is 30 pounds lighter, but Dunn isn't saying.

"I don't stand on the scale in front of the mirror or anything like that," Dunn said. "I've been swinging the bat a little bit and doing things (working out) I've always done, just a little more.

"One of my buddies is a former minor league guy who likes to go over there and see if he can still throw. I wouldn't say I'm hitting five days a week. Some weeks we'll go four times, some weeks we won't go at all.

"I just know that my body feels good. I feel healthy. I feel great. I'm ready to get back. I'm just ready to get going."

He had better.

According to new manager Robin Ventura, Dunn will be asked to not only to be the designated hitter, but also play first base and even some outfield. Ventura is yet to have that conversation with Dunn.

"I'm fine with whatever," he said. "I'll be ready."

As far as last season, he will continue trying to close the book on it, but it won't be easy.

"Everything I've done my entire life has been discredited by one stupid year," Dunn said. "Maybe discredited is not the word, but that's kind of how I feel."

White Sox Notes & Quotes

  • RHP Phil Humber is the leader for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, according to new manager Robin Ventura. That doesn't mean Ventura will simply hand it to Humber, who was a breakout pitcher for the White Sox last season. Humber posted an 8-5 record and a 3.10 ERA, holding opponents to a .218 average in the first half of the season. He did seem to hit a wall after the All-Star Game, spending a stint on the 15-day disabled list, and then going 1-4 with a 5.01 ERA.

    Humber will join RHPs Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd, as well as LHPs Chris Sale and John Danks in the rotation. "Phil would be that leader heading into the clubhouse," Ventura said of Humber. "I don't see anything changing with that at this point. We will see during spring training, but I'm confident in Phil in doing that No. 5 position."

  • LHP Matt Thornton struggled as the closer last April, eventually losing the job to RHP Sergio Santos. But with Santos traded to Toronto and Sale getting a chance to be a starter, Ventura said Thornton would get another look as the closer this spring.

    "I'm leaning on Matt doing that," Ventura said. "I don't think those type of things are concrete. I would like to see him do that, but we'll see how that goes in spring training with him and how he feels." Thornton posted a 2.45 ERA over 52 games after May 1 following an 8.64 ERA in April. Addison Reed and Jesse Crain are also candidates.

  • 2B Gordon Beckham knows that the White Sox were vast underachievers last season, so he welcomed in all the offseason changes that were made with the roster and the coaching staff.

    "Change is always a good thing when things haven't been going well," Beckham said. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So there's been a little change, and we're a little excited. Why not go out and have fun? It is a game. It's not supposed to be so built up, so hyped up, that you cannot go out and have fun. That's one thing I want to get back to and that's one thing I know guys want to get back there. Fun happens when you win. All we got to do is win some games and we'll be enjoying it."

  • Manager Robin Ventura is still leaving some questions to be answered with his starting outfield, specifically where Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios will play. Dayan Viciedo is definitely in right field, but Rios might move over from center to left, giving De Aza the nod in center. Ventura said that reserve Brent Lillibridge will get innings in all three outfield spots, and Adam Dunn was still in play to get work out there.

  • OF Yoenis Cespedes is still on the radar for the White Sox, but how he would fit in is still a mystery. The Cuban defector is a free agent after he established residency in the Dominican Republic, and the White Sox have been on his list from the start, including a private workout he had with them. They might have to move one more piece, such as RHP Gavin Floyd or LHP Matt Thornton, to give them the money for the deal, but they would also have to decide which outfielder would be out.

    Ventura has said that 2B Gordon Beckham might get a look at leadoff duties, which means that Alejandro De Aza would be expendable if they can sign Cespedes.

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