Over the weekend Ozzie Guillen explained that he was going to stick with Adam Dunn as the White Sox’s third-place hitter because “this guy is very important in our lineup” and “the only way he’s going to hit is to play him.”
At that point Dunn had batted third in 20 straight games, but the day after uttering those words Guillen moved him to the fifth spot and now less than a week later the manager has decided to drop Dunn all the way down to the seventh spot.
Here’s what Guillen told Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago:
I want to make sure he relaxes a little bit. It’s not to punish him. Right now he’s a little frustrated. I think we kind of worry about him. You can see him kind of worry about it. After his at-bat he’s very down. But I have to continue to play him.
I hope batting him seventh he will get a break and relax a little bit. Hopefully that works. When he starts swinging the bat better we will move him back to where he’s supposed to be.
Dunn, who signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the White Sox as a free agent after posting an OPS above .850 in seven straight seasons, has gone 0-for-33 versus left-handed pitching and is currently in a 4-for-40 slump overall.
He also leads the league in strikeouts, but that’s nothing new and wouldn’t be an issue if Dunn were producing like he usually does. Instead he’s hitting .186 with five homers and a .660 OPS that’s 235 points below his career norm.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.