Infield shift gives Dunn fits, takes away hits

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The defensive shift employed by opposing teams against Adam Dunn certainly wasn't invented for the White Sox slugger.

But it has cost him nonetheless.

With the first baseman, second baseman and shortstop all stationed between the first- and second-base bags, Dunn can rip a ball to right only to have the shot grabbed in short right field for an out. This scenario played out last week in a Cactus League contest.

It's frustrating for the big man who has hit the ball out of reach from fielders 406 times in his career. There's also not much he can do about it.

"I know people look at it and ask, 'Why doesn't he hit the ball over there [the opposite way]?' And you know, there's two reasons," Dunn said. "One is the way they are pitching me. It's really hard to, when the ball is diving down at your back foot, to hit the ball to third base.

"Two is where I stand on the plate. I'm on the plate probably a little more than I should. But that's where I've always felt comfortable. A pitch that's away that most people would hit the other way, that seems to be right down the middle to middle-away to me.

"That's a ball that I'll pull nine times out of 10," Dunn said. "It's something that has taken away a lot of hits in my career, but I don't know what else to do."

Dunn bounced back in 2012 with 41 homers and 96 RBIs, but he also batted .204. If you add 15 hits taken away by the shift, though, his average jumps to .232 and closer to his career .240 number.

Calling Dunn a pure pull hitter would be inaccurate, as he had 19 hits from straightaway center to left at U.S. Cellular Field in 2012. He is resigned to the fact that certain balls pulled to right will send him on a right turn back to the dugout, instead of rounding the bag to the left for a hit.

"All I try to do is hit the ball hard and it's going to go where it goes," Dunn said. "I was talking to [Conor] Gillaspie about that today. Where they pitch me most of the time, if I hit a ball good, it's going to go that way.

"I'm not going to sit there and try. It's really hard to hit a pitch that is coming down and in to you to third base. You know what I mean? It's kind of hard to do. It takes a lot of hits away from me. It is what it is."