Adam Dunn says he's still planning on being the American League's Comeback Player of the Year after promising as much to White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson on the last day of his awful 2011 season.
Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune has more on the story:
"He said: 'Hawk, I'm sorry you had to cover for me all season. I promise you I will be comeback player of the year,' " Harrelson recalled.
Asked about it Thursday, Dunn wouldn't back down.
"I will," he said, "if I play all 162 (games) like I plan to."
Depending how you look on it, it's been so far, so good for the beefy slugger this spring. Dunn is hitting .308/.526/.846 with two homers, six RBIs and six walks over the extremely small sample size of 19 plate appearances. Perhaps most impressively, he struck out only once. So he's swinging the bat well and his eye at the plate seems to have returned after posting a .159 average with 11 homers, 177 strikeouts and 75 walks in just 122 games last year. It's great news for White Sox fans who had to suffer through an entire season of Hawk talking his way around Dunn's struggles.
On the other hand, Dunn has been suffering from a stiff neck this week and has been scratched from two games. If he's aiming for a full season at the plate, his big 32-year-old body will not only need to maintain better numbers, but it'll need to stay healthy.
But as Jim Margalus of South Side Sox writes, Dunn's 2012 season won't be hampered from the emergency appendectomy surgery that "threw his swing off" from the start in 2011. He also notes that Dunn isn't couching some of his predictions like he was last spring. Dunn is perhaps the highest-profile "three true outcomes" slugger in the big leagues and the early returns are reflecting the homer-walk-strikeout ratio that you want to see from such a player.
Of course, it also remains up for debate just what would constitute a "comeback" season for Dunn. After all, even an increase of 50 points in his batting average and 10 homers on his line would fit the definition of improvement. Would he have to eclipse the 30-homer mark to fully impress everyone? Or will any added performance be considered gravy and enough to capture the award he's aiming for?
What do you think?