Sox get Dunn and A.J.

By Etheria Modacure

White Sox General Manager Ken Williams wasted no time acquiring the left-handed power hitter he desired during last season. The Sox signed Adam Dunn on Dec. 3 to a four-year, $56 million contract.

The team also re-signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a two-year, $8 million contract after he was close to signing with another team.

With Dunn, the Sox receive a player who is a .250 career hitter with 354 home runs. He hit .260 in 158 games last season with the Washington Nationals while playing right field and first base. He hit 38 home runs this year and could provide stability at the designated hitter position or playing first base.

There were reports last summer that Dunn didn’t want to join an American League team to be positioned as a primary designated hitter, but on Dec. 3 Dunn dispelled any notions of that being true.

“I’m on a team that’s got a chance to win the World Series,” Dunn said. “I’ll do whatever [the Sox] want me to do, however often they want me to do it.”

This should be good news for White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, given his designated hitter by committee failed last season without Jim Thome, who was signed by the rival Minnesota Twins.

Guillen chose not to bring Thome back last season, which proved to help the Twins and hurt the Sox. Thome went on to have a great season in a Twins uniform when he hit .283, 25 home runs and had 59 RBIs in 108 games.

The Sox’s rotation of designated hitters, which focused primarily on Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones, combined for 27 home runs and a .234 batting average between the two players.

At 31, Dunn could be the left-handed hitter the Sox have missed since Thome hit 42 home runs in his first season with the team in 2006. Williams said Dunn’s consistency at the plate is what attracted the team the most. Though Dunn has a low-career batting average, he has hit more than 30 home runs in nine consecutive seasons. His career high in home runs came in 2002 with the Cleveland Indians when he belted 52 long balls.

“We needed that offensively, period,” Williams said. “Now to get it from the left side, certainly it’s a bonus.”

When asked for the biggest reason why he’s been consistent with home runs and RBI’s, Dunn referred to his durability and not missing insurmountable time away from the game because of injuries.

The last time Dunn played fewer than 150 games in a season was in 2003, his third season in the league. Dunn played in 116 games, hitting career lows in batting average .215 and doubles, 12.

“I’ve been fortunate to play and stay healthy,” Dunn said. “There are a lot of people [who] can be consistent, but they have health issues.”

Dunn noted the adjustment to the American League shouldn’t be hard for him because he still has to see the ball and hit it, no matter what pitcher he’s facing.

While the Sox celebrtaed their new signing of Dunn, one player enjoyed a stay with the team that garnered him his first World Series championship.

Pierzynski, one of the franchise’s most consistent catchers, agreed to a two-year contract after getting offers from other teams.

He has never played in fewer than 125 games in any season with the Sox and has caught more than 1,100 innings in four of six seasons with the team.

“I want to be out there, I want to play,” Pierzynski said on Dec. 3 during a conference call. “I don’t want to take days off. When I take days off, I’m really not a happy camper.”

The catcher also noted that the deal with the Sox came at the last minute when he was close to joining another team. He told his mother on Oct. 3, the last day of the season, that he didn’t think he was returning to the South Side, and was one phone call away from being gone.

With the Sox always being in a “win-now” mode, which stems from Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf Williams and Guillen, Pierzynski said it’s easier for a player to want to return to a team with that mentality. He said the team has strong personnel and leadership at the top of the organization.

“That’s one thing that’s fun about playing for the White Sox because they’re always in that mode,” Pierzynski said. “They always want to win.”