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.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.