Ozzie Guillen said he and former White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker knew they "had a problem" the first time they saw Adam Dunn's swing at spring training last February. The fact of the matter is Dunn has never found his swing until the end of spring training, and he appeared to find it at the end of camp last year.
When Walker first laid eyes on Dunn's swing, it was probably the first time Dunn had a bat in his hands since the end of the 2010 season. As always, Dunn hadn't hit during the offseason and never saw a reason to because he was always ready to go by Opening Day.
He appeared ready on Opening Day last season when he homered against the Indians' Fausto Carmona in Cleveland. Dunn was 4-for-14 (.286) with five RBI over his first four games when he went down with an appendectomy in Kansas City on April 6 and, for whatever reason, never recovered. There were other factors that likely entered into his woeful season, in which he batted .159 with 11 home runs -- 15 fewer than his previous full-season low. But a case can be made that the surgery and subsequent stoppage of his season set off the downward spiral.
Dunn wanted to come back sooner but returned to action six days after having surgery. General manager Ken Williams said in hindsight he would have held Dunn back longer and perhaps given him some minor league at-bats to get his swing back after the layoff. Dunn, one of baseball's most prolific home run hitters of all time, went on to have one of the worst seasons ever by a major leaguer.
On "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 Friday, Guillen said Walker approached him after watching Dunn's first hitting session in Arizona.
"He says 'We have a problem,' " Guillen said. "I say 'What? Spring training is only a couple of days [old].' He said, 'You've got to come out and see Adam Dunn's swing.' I said 'Don't worry about it. We've got a month and a half to get ready, go through spring training. Don't worry about it.' "
Guillen watched for himself the next day.
"I looked at his swing and I told [bench coach] Joey Cora going home, 'We've got a big problem,' " Guillen said.
Dunn was not concerned. He repeatedly told reporters during spring training that was his history, and that "eventually it will click. It always does.''
Because of his poor year, Dunn did some hitting this past offseason. Guillen (Marlins) and Walker (Braves) will both be elsewhere, giving Dunn a fresh start with new manager Robin Ventura and hitting coach Jeff Manto.
"It was painful to see Adam Dunn every at-bat and walk behind me with a long face striking out," Guillen said.
"People in Chicago, believe me, he tried everything in his power to get better. He just had a bad year. Hopefully he will bounce back."