Did you hear that Adam Dunn was terrible last season? It is true – he was one of the very worst hitters in baseball. Which is weird, because he is usually a very good hitter. It is kind of his thing.

Starting fresh with an all new staff and a brand new outlook in 2012, Adam Dunn vows to be better. Which is the point of Spring Training: empty promises.

In a revealing interview with Ken Rosenthal, Adam Dunn talks about how he experienced the “perfect circle” of problems: mentally getting in his own way while struggling with an early-season health issue and a perceived lack of support from manager Ozzie Guillen.

With Guillen now peddling his particular brand of crazy in Miami, Dunn says the new White Sox coaching staff is exactly what the doctor ordered (were the doctor Adam Dunn, which is terrifying.)

As inevitably happens in these “I’m much more comfortable” stories, it turns out a mechanical change or adjustment is the driving force behind the good vibes. Dunn explains the changes in his approach to Rosenthal:

“Last year, I was worried about the wrong things as far as where my hands are,” Dunn says. “Ninety percent of what happened was simple, mental. I got lazy with my legs. That’s what happened, pretty much. I worried about everything else but that.

“I was worried about my hands instead of getting my legs in good position. Next thing you know, I’m standing straight up in the air and trying to use all upper body. If I get my legs in position and use my lower half, it gets everything lined up.”

Getting “everything lined up” is a great way to “not be so terrible as to make the baby Jesus weep”, I assume. If using more of his lower half to power/trigger his swing lets Adam Dunn touch more fastballs, he has already ahead in half the battle.

Compare Dunn’s performance against fastballs from 2010 and 2011. They are, as the pros say, striking.

Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info

From 24 home runs against the heat in 2010 to a whopping total of five. Ouch.

Hearing Dunn come clean and admit last year is a mess is somewhat refreshing, though the good people at South Side Sox aren’t quite as convinced. After Dunn finally admitted he came from the appendectomy too early (after denying it all year), the SSS folks have questions. Namely:

  • Why wouldn’t Dunn admit it last year, when nobody would have doubted him given the way his numbers plummeted after his return?
  • How did the coaching and/or training staff not put a stop to it in April or early May?

Fair questions, both. With Ventura and his feel-good team of gurus massaging Dunn and bringing him out of his shell, the big slugger is ready to both start fresh and minimize expectations. Jim Margalus of SSS notes these comments are even out of line with what he said at the start of camp.

Mixed messages and couched statements aside, Dunn is off to a decent start to the Cactus League, striking out just once in 19 plate appearances with two home runs. The tell-tale slugging percentage looks promising at this early juncture, sitting over .800.

Adam Dunn is simply too good to have just forgotten how to hit last year. Like Rosenthal, I do not accept that he is this bad and refuse to put him down for another season below replacement-level. Of all the White Sox problems in 2012, fans in Chicago can sleep easy knowing Adam Dunn is the least of them.