Like most left-handed hitters Adam Dunn has been much weaker versus left-handed pitchers throughout his career, but he has still been an asset against southpaws with an .810 OPS that is, for instance, higher than the overall career OPS of guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Ivan Rodriguez, Michael Young, Vernon Wells, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre, and Torii Hunter.
However, so far this season Dunn has been helpless against left-handed pitching. In fact, STATS Inc. passed along a startling stat: Dunn has yet to get a hit off a lefty in 30 at-bats, striking out 13 times while getting on base three times via walks.
He’s also not clobbering right-handed pitching like he usually does, which is why Dunn has hit just .190 with four homers and a .653 OPS through 40 games of a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox. Despite the 0-for-30 against lefties and overall struggles, manager Ozzie Guillen said yesterday that he’s sticking with Dunn as Chicago’s third-place hitter:
When I bench him, I’m going to bench him for a day off, not because I’m punishing him. What can I do? This guy is very important in our lineup. We’re just waiting for him to hit, and the only way he’s going to hit is to play him.
Dunn’s long swing and prolific strikeout totals perhaps make him more prone to slumps than most hitters his caliber, but Guillen is absolutely right. There’s no reason to overreact to 40 bad games from a 31-year-old hitter who’s topped an .850 OPS in seven straight seasons and has never finished with an OPS below .800.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.