On Monday, Dunn actually backed it up with production, going 2-for-4 with a single off lefty Jeff Francis, and a game-changing two-run homer on a 96-mph Aaron Crow fastball. Both resulted in curtain calls, the latter more genuine than the former.
Everybody in the clubhouse is hoping this is the start of something great. I'm skeptical for a couple reasons -- for one, we've seen flashes of good contact before, and they've dissipated in due time. Plus, neither ball was crushed. The single was off the end of the bat, and the homer was of the sky-high fly variety, and he's hit a number of those over the past few weeks, though not to that distance.
That said, good things for Dunn can't come soon enough, based on the way he's handling it. He's taken all the questions. He's expressed frustration without snapping at anybody. He's put on a good face without crossing over into glibness. He's taking intense batting practice. He hasn't questioned Ozzie Guillen's benchings.
And when asked about the fans ... well, you couldn't coach a better answer:
In response to the ovation, Dunn tipped his helmet to the crowd but was even more appreciative after they cheered him until he came out of the dugout following his home run.
"I promise you it’s a way better feeling that way than the other way," Dunn said. "I appreciate them, especially tonight, sticking with it. The thing about the fans, they boo and stuff because they want to see the team and me personally do so well. That’s how I’ve been looking at it. It makes it more special when they cheer like that."
Sure, you can say $56 million goes a long way to relaxing a guy, but we've seen highly compensated ballplayers respond to tough times by sulking their way out of the South Side (hint: his name rhymes with "Brick Fisher"). If you want a current example, look at what John Lackey is doing in Boston. Dunn may have alienated fans with his play, but he's got his teammates and manager behind him, and the foundation is still intact for a mutual relationship of love and respect if and when he straightens himself out. He's holding a clinic in how to handle high-profile struggles -- now he just needs to take American League pitchers to school.
John Danks strained his oblique on June 25. He went on the DL a day later. Some thought he might only miss a start, or at least the minimal time. Nine days removed from the injury, Danks said (emphasis mine):
"Honestly, it feels good. It's getting better every day. Certain baseball motions still kind of get me, but that's part of it. We're not that far into it yet."
And this is why you never pick the under on recovery time from oblique strains. If he's back in under four weeks, I think that could be described as "on schedule."
What J.J. says here has crossed my mind. Juan Pierre is already Ozzie Guillen's security blanket, and if he's resurgent -- surging toward decency, that is -- it makes it harder to justify his ousting. At the same time, the Sox need wins, and if Pierre's the only one who can deliver them, then the finger needs to be pointed elsewhere.
Like me, Guillen thinks Phil Humber will make the All-Star team when all unavailabilities are accounted for. And Paul Konerko leads in the Final Vote thus far.
James looks back on the last week of White Sox baseball, giving props to a bullpen that has been nothing short of excellent of late.
The latest edition of the podcast is up.