Adam Dunn, 4 Other Chicago White Sox Opening Day Observations
The Chicago White Sox put forward a decent, albeit somewhat unpleasant fight in the first game of the season. They fell in a 3-2 decision to the Texas Rangers on Friday. It was a melancholy start to the beginning of Robin Ventura's tenure as White Sox manager.
A few players looked particularly good for the White Sox. Adam Dunn had a very pleasing start to the season. John Danks did fairly well in his start. Addison Reed did a solid job in relief.
Some didn't do too well. Brent Morel was horrible each time he went to the plate. Gordon Beckham wasn't that impressive.
Following is a look at some key points to Opening Day for the White Sox.
Adam Dunn Flexed Power and Patience
Adam Dunn had a very nice day at the plate. He showed a good ability to get on base, reaching in two of his five plate appearance. He hit his record-tying eighth Opening Day home run and walked.
Dunn's home run showed that he can get a lot more power than he showed last season, when he knocked off only 11 home runs.
Dunn had a good approach at the plate. He took pitches, remaining selective for the most part. The 32-year-old slugger generally went for good pitches.
White Sox fans can be happy with Dunn's open to the season. They don't have to worry too much about waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat with the slash line .159/.292/.277 in their heads.
"The Big Donkey" is moving in the right direction.
John Danks Had a Nice Opening Day Start
The era of John Danks as the White Sox ace began on Friday, and it commenced in fairly predictable fashion. Danks had a quality start, but couldn't get enough run support to earn a win.
As he did eight times in 2011, the Round Rock, Texas native lost while receiving two runs from his offense.
Danks didn't do too bad in his own right. He allowed three runs in a reasonable six innings of work. Also, Danks demonstrated his fine ability to run by batters by striking out six Rangers hitters. He showed good control, throwing one wild pitch, but avoiding a walk.
Hopefully, the White Sox can give Danks the run support needed to win a decent number of games. He does good work and should see the benefit of it. Also, Danks isn't the type of pitcher who overwhelms opposing teams.
Maybe the runs will come later. As for now...
The White Sox Offense Was Underwhelming
The White Sox managed to score—that's the good part. The bad part is that they could hardly do anything after getting men on base. Alex Rios' was the only run manufactured.
The White Sox left eight men on base, including two in scoring position. Getting a couple more runners around the bases would have made a difference in the game.
Also, it would have been nice to see another home run besides Adam Dunn's.
White Sox batters struck out 13 times on Friday. That was different from last year, when the White Sox showed a good amount of plate discipline, striking out 989 times (6.2 times per game), second least in the American League.
Hopefully, the White Sox find a way to strike out less and score more. Otherwise, it'll definitely be a long year.
Brent Morel Was the Brent Morel of the First 5 Months of 2011
White Sox fans wondered heading into the season whether they would see the Brent Morel who hit eight home runs in September or the one who hit two in the first five months, rarely reaching base during that time.
On Friday, Morel looked like the latter. He failed miserably at the plate, striking out all four times he stepped up.
Morel had no plan at the plate; he went for all the wrong pitches. Three times he struck out swinging. Twice he went down going for pitches outside the zone.
Morel struck out 57 times last year, once every eight at-bats. Opening Day was worse than many days last year.
Still, one must worry if he can develop any sort of presence in the batter's box.
The Bullpen Was Fantastic
White Sox fans didn't get a chance on Friday to see who might be the closer. They did get to see two of the relievers who were in competition for the closer role, Matt Thornton and Addison Reed.
Both were superb in their innings of work. Reed pitched a perfect eighth inning. He managed a strikeout, getting David Murphy to go down looking. That was a great way to start the rookie year. White Sox fans will hope to see more outings like that from him.
Thornton pitched a hitless ninth. Aside from a fielding error by Brent Morel, it was a perfect side. He showed impeccable control, throwing 10 strikes in 13 pitches.
After allowing three walks per nine innings in 2011, Thornton's control was a delight to see.
The White Sox will be looking for Thornton and Reed to put in a great deal of work in whatever role they perform. They both started the year right.