Let’s not read too much into it just yet, but Adam Dunn is giving some strong early indications that he’s ready to shake off his historically awful 2011 season.
On Thursday, the big first baseman hit a three-run homer off Neftali Feliz in his first at-bat and collected an RBI double off left-hander Michael Kirkman in his second at-bat as part of a 6-3 win over Texas.
Coming into the day, Dunn had walked in three of his four plate appearances this spring. He’s yet to strike out in seven plate appearances.
Obviously, that’s not much, but it’s still a big change. Dunn fanned once every 2.8 plate appearances last season. Even last spring, he hit just .224 and struck out 27 times in 67 at-bats.
It’d be no surprise if the double off Kirkman pleased Dunn more than the homer. Dunn had just one extra-base hit against left-handers all last season. He was 6-for-94 with one double and three RBI against them.
The White Sox are poised to give Dunn another chance to be an everyday player this year, but if he does get off to a slow start, they probably won’t be as patient as they were last season, especially as far as playing him against southpaws. Some good at-bats against left-handers this spring would go a long way towards restoring both Dunn’s confidence and the team’s faith in him.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.