GLENDALE, Ariz. - The White Sox 4-11 finish that knocked them out of first place still eats at Adam Dunn. It was long ago, but not forgotten.
"I don't think we have,'' Dunn said on the Sox' first full-squad workout day. "I hope we haven't. You work so hard during the offseason, during the season, putting yourself in a great position and obviously we had some injuries but we just didn't play well when it mattered. That's tough for me and I would assume it's tough for everybody in locker room.''
Dunn has never played in the postseason. He had to have liked his chances when the Sox led the Detroit Tigers by three games with 15 games left in the American League Central.
"I'm sure everybody's going to say start over with a clean slate but I don't want to forget about last year,'' he said. "That's something, I want to remember how it felt basically getting knocked out of first place because I know I didn't like it very much and I don't want it to happen again. You work so hard to put yourself in the position we were in and just to let stupid things happen. Little stupid injuries here and there. We just didn't play well at the end.''
Dunn led the American League with 222 strikeouts and 105 walks in 2012. If he follows through on taking the different approach he's talked about, look for both numbers to drop in 2013.
Dunn often walked away from at-bats kicking himself for letting hittable pitches go by early in counts.
"That's going to be an emphasis this spring, trying to be more aggressive, not get myself too deep into counts,'' Dunn said Sunday, "instead of being so selective early -- especially on the first pitch.''
Dunn's .204 average was 36 points below his career mark. His .333 on-base percentage was .37 points below his career norm. Manager Robin Ventura is OK with the walks dropping as long as the hits increase.
"That's the way I would like to see the equation,'' Ventura said. "You get more hits, especially the way they play him with the shift. Go ahead and take the hits to the left side.
"You want him to be more aggressive. For a guy like him there is something about hitting earlier in the count instead of taking pitches that are close or just off. Athletically, he has the ability to expand the zone a little. We're not talking about expanding the zone and swinging and missing, you're talking about being a little more aggressive, going out of the zone and make contact.''
Dunn faced 157 full counts last season and led the majors in pitches per plate appearance with 4.43.