Adam Dunn was as bad as a previously excellent hitter could possibly be last season, batting .159 while moving down the lineup and then eventually to the bench, but new White Sox manager Robin Ventura is wiping the slate clean.
Not only is Ventura committed to playing Dunn every day, he’ll begin the season batting third in the White Sox’s lineup.
Obviously if Dunn performs anything like he did last season he has no business being anywhere near the middle of the lineup, but Ventura correctly noted that if Dunn turns things around his skill set is a good fit in the No. 3 spot:
He gets on base a lot. Even though he might strike out a little bit, he does walk a lot. To me, that’s a good thing in front of Paul [Konerko].
And he’s absolutely right, as Dunn has a .374 career on-base percentage and has gotten 13 percent of his career playing time as a No. 3 hitter, although it won’t matter if he doesn’t get back on track in a big way. He’s hit .255 with a .415 on-base percentage and .569 slugging percentage this spring, which is exactly what Dunn’s numbers look like when he’s playing well.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.