Adam Dunn homers, doubles to lead White Sox

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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.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.