CHICAGO -- Back in March, sitting in front of a small locker at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., and sporting a full beard, Adam Dunn made one promise for the 2012 season.
The fun that was missing with baseball in 2011 for him, the fun that was always there in his power-packed career, would return. Six months later, Dunn told MLB.com on Thursday that particular mission has been accomplished and it has nothing to do with his rejuvenation at the plate.
"It has been what baseball was supposed to be for me. I look forward to coming [to the ballpark] every single day," said Dunn, who played first base in the opener of a four-game set against the Rays. "I really have enjoyed this year, like I have in the past. This one maybe a little bit more than most.
"Just everything, just little bitty things in baseball that really irritate me and I'm not letting them, I'm not buying into all that. I'm not letting people get me down. I just want to come every day and have fun. Whatever happens is going to happen anyway. I might as well have fun doing it."
Dunn already has gone on record saying how he felt bad for the entire 2011 White Sox staff that gave him every chance to succeed but suffered along with him in his disastrous South Side debut. Former manager Ozzie Guillen also has praised the designated hitter for handling the season-long troubles like a professional but also being accountable for the on-field results.
Nonetheless, having a new staff gave Dunn a new baseball lease with individuals who didn't know about 2011 or care to revisit it.
"Obviously, everybody knows about last year, but the whole coaching staff wasn't here to see it," said Dunn, who has bounced back to hit 41 homers, drive in 94 and serve as one of the team's clubhouse leaders. "They heard about it, but there's a difference between living it every day with you and hearing about it. I felt like I had a clean slate with them starting from Day 1.
"I was going to have fun and I knew if I had fun, things would hopefully be there. If not, this game is long and hard enough to not have fun doing it. It's a lot easier to do it when your team is playing well and things like that. I feel like if I'm loose and having fun, it keeps everybody else loose and having fun. I think it's when you play your best."