Results tagged ‘ Adam Dunn ’
What do we really know about Alex Meyer? It’s hard to say, at this early juncture, but this much is for sure – he’s got a build pitching coaches dream of, standing at an eye-popping 6’9”. After two pedestrian years at the University of Kentucky, Meyer really impressed in his junior year, going 7-5 with a 2.94 ERA, a very low mark going up against metal bats in the SEC, one of the premiere baseball conferences in America. He also lowered his walk rate while striking out 9.8 batters per nine innings, and yielded only two home runs in 101.0 innings pitched. Although Meyer still walked 4.1 batters per nine innings in his final collegiate year, a control issue not uncommon with tall hurlers, Nationals director of player development Doug Harris isn’t worried.
“Anytime you have a guy who is that size, they tend to have more difficulty than smaller guys holding their delivery together,” explains Harris. “I think he’s done a great job with that. He’s got very good body control for a big man. It’s something that he’s going to continue to learn as he does get bigger and stronger, being able to repeat more consistently.”
Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams echoes Harris’ assessment of the lanky righty, noting that height is not necessarily the determining factor in creating a repeatable delivery.
“I think it’s the athleticism, the body awareness and the feel that you have of what you’re doing out there,” says Williams. “There are guys that are 5’9” that have trouble keeping their mechanics together, keeping their delivery together. You’ve got to keep an eye on it obviously, but he’s seemed to pick up on the things we’ve talked to him about and taken them out into the game.”
While Meyer did not pitch at all professionally last year, he did go to the Nationals instructional league, where Williams got his first look at the young pitcher from Greensburg, Indiana. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a power slider that sits in the mid-80s, Meyer acknowledges that the continued development of his changeup will be crucial to his success as a professional. Just like any first-year pro, the pitch itself is also a work in progress.
“I feel good with where it’s at,” Meyer says of his off-speed pitch. “It still needs a good amount of work, but now that I’m down here with the coaches I feel like it will progress at a quicker rate than it was there.”
The Nationals certainly see the potential in Meyer. Enough so that the club selected him with the 23rd overall pick in last year’s draft, a compensation pick from the Chicago White Sox for the loss of free agent Adam Dunn. That continued a tradition of University of Kentucky stars going in the first round to Washington sports franchises. Most D.C. sports fans know that John Wall, the number one overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, was a prodigy with the Wildcats for a year before entering the league. But Kentucky also boasts Victoria Dunlap, the first-round selection of the Washington Mystics last year.
“There’s a good contingent of Kentucky players in the D.C. area,” acknowledges Meyer, who had a funny story involving Wall after being drafted. “All of the sudden, my friends started telling me ‘John Wall is following you on Twitter,’ which was cool. I knew John, though if he remembers me I’m just the tall baseball player that he met a couple times. But he was a good guy when I met him.”
Meyer’s modesty in acknowledging the moment is not something lost on Williams. The coach is encouraged as much by his young hurler’s attitude and approach as he is by his electric arm.
“I think the biggest thing with Alex is that he’s not that arrogant guy that’s a number one draft choice, who’s got a lot of money and thinks everybody owes him everything,” says Williams. “He knows he’s going to have to work. He’s been wonderful with us. He’s trying to soak in as much information as he can.”
Meyer will look to parlay that information into a successful inaugural season in the Nationals farm system. His biggest focus for the year is not on hitting specific statistical goals or advancing to any particular level of the system. Instead, he is concerned mostly with trying to make the successful transition from the amateur ranks.
“You want to play well, that’s the first thing that sticks out,” he explains. “I’ve got to get used to throwing every five days, adjusting from a seven-day college rotation, which is a pretty big difference. When I came down from the instructional league and I was trying to adjust, it took me a little bit. My arm was a little tired, trying to come back, was a little stiff, but I threw through it. By the end I liked it, I felt stronger.”
There is more to the process of adjusting to the professional ranks than what happens on the field, though. Meyer shows his keen understanding of the changes in lifestyle that await him, supporting Williams’ observations about his maturity and character.
“There’s the whole aspect of really being on your own,” says Meyer. “You’re traveling, you’re going on seven-day, 10-day road trips. When you’re in college, you’re gone three days, then you’re back Monday for class. So it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment period. I just want to mature and figure things out, and obviously I want to pitch well and see what happens from there.”
We know we won’t be the only ones keeping an eye on Meyer as he tackles his first year in the minors. We’ll keep tabs on him and the other prospects featured in Down on the Farm as the season wears on.
Adam Dunn stood in the on-deck circle, just waiting for his turn to win the game on July 31. The Nats were trailing the Phillies 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth with one out, runners on first and second and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. Dunn never got the chance. Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run.
“Dunn said he’s upset every time when that happens in front of him,” Zimmerman said after the game. “Kind of upset. I don’t know–I don’t know how to take that.”
Of course, Dunn was joking but that is Mr. Dunn to a T – a comedian who is never short on wises cracks and has the ability to win the game at any moment with his bat. That’s why White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams signed Dunn to a four-year, $56 M deal. Williams finally got the man he failed to land at the trade deadline in July. The Nationals will get the White Sox first round pick–23 overall–and a sandwich pick between the first and second round in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft as compensation for Dunn.
There is no doubt Adam Dunn will be missed at Nationals Park, a sentiment summed up by Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo in the wake of Dunn signing a multi-year contract with the White Sox:
“The Washington Nationals wish Adam Dunn and his family the best of luck and good will in Chicago. Adam contributed much to the Nationals and to the Washington, D.C. community. He will be missed, but will remain an important figure in the early history of this franchise and will always be a part of the Nationals baseball family.”
He was beloved by teammates and fans alike with his country boy mentality and Kenny Powers personality. He is one of the few players in the League that legitimately has a chance to hit a home run every time he steps to the plate. He has 282 home runs since 2004–second to Albert Pujols–and he is the only player in the Majors to hit 38 or more home runs during the last seven seasons.
The bubble blowing Dunn takes his bat to the American League with the possibility of being a full-time DH for the first time too, neither of which were appealing to him a few months ago. But things change and this was an offer he couldn’t turn down.
The Nationals top priority entering the 2009 season was to add a power bat to the heart of the lineup. They pursued highly coveted All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira but their valiant attempt fell short when he signed with the New York Yankees for less money and fewer years. Enter Adam Dunn. Two years, and 76 home runs later, Dunn is gone. The hole has reopened and the priority of signing a slugger has returned.
Dunn was the first of the free-agent dominos to fall and with the GM meetings starting on Monday, the baseball landscape and Nationals roster will inevitably change even more. The Nats are expecting additions, not subtractions this time around though.
While Nationals Park may be empty and the players are back home with their families, Notes from NatsTown is not about to take a break just because the season is over. We’re here to give you your Nationals fix to hold you over until next spring. Is it spring yet? Starting today, we will run 30 Players in 30 Days–except not really 30 days because we will only post them on weekdays.
Possibly the greatest question mark of the Nationals offseason revolves around Adam Dunn’s future. We don’t know what the future holds but we think Yogi Berra was right when he said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” We can look at the past though. So in our first segment of “30 in 30,” we’ll look at what Dunn has meant to Washington baseball for the past two years.
“He’s not a cheerleader but if there is still such a thing as a leader by example in this game, he is it,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He’s a pillar in the clubhouse.”
On the field, Dunn has transformed himself from a defensive liability in the outfield to a sound first baseman, most of the time. According to the Ultimate Zone Rating, he was the worst fielder in the Majors last season with a -37.1 UZR–translation: he cost the Nats 37.1 runs. He improved that to a -3.2 UZR in his first full season as a first baseman, evidence that Dunn still needs to improve but proved he can be a productive first baseman.
While Dunn’s defense may still be in question, what he can do with the bat is certainly not. He is one of the best offensive first basemen in the game. Dunn’s 38 home runs tied for second in the NL and marked the seventh straight season he has hit 35-plus long balls. He’s the only Major Leaguer to do so in every season since 2004. That’s consistency. This is also his fourth straight season collecting 100-plus RBI, but more impressive than hitting the century mark is when he hit those RBI. Dunn tied for third in the NL with 29 go-ahead RBI this season, which include providing the go-ahead runs in both of Stephen Strasburg’s first two Major League starts. Oh, and let’s not forget the go-ahead runs in Luis Atilano’s first two Major League starts too. Oh, and all four were on Dunn homers and resulted in four Curly “W’s”. That’s consistency. Dunn missed just four games the entire season and has played 152-plus games in seven consecutive seasons–only Ichiro Suzuki has played in more games since 2004. That’s also consistency. You get the point.
His teammates have already given him a vote of confidence. “He’s a huge part of our offense. He drives in runs. He hits home runs,” Jordan Zimmermann said. “His defense at first has gotten so much better. He’s an all-around great player.”
Asked how it would feel to lose Dunn, Drew Storen admitted, “It would be tough because he’s such a good guy to have in the clubhouse. Obviously, the numbers, the power in clutch situations, speak for themselves. But I think not having him around in the clubhouse would be the thing I miss the most.”
In his final at-bat at Nationals Park this year, fans gave him a standing ovation while cheering, “Sign Adam Dunn!” The cheers remained even after he struck out for the fourth time that day.
“It’s really good to feel wanted,” Dunn said. “I mean, who doesn’t want that feeling? You really can’t put that kind of thing into words. That’s special.”
So now we just wait and see what happens.
Well it’s getaway day here in Atlanta, and with a 12:10 p.m. first pitch today against the Braves, it’s an earlier-than-usual start for the team and staff. Players’ luggage starts to arrive in the lobby by 7 a.m., and Wally is at it again, checking names off of his list and tagging bags before loading them onto the moving truck.
The players and coaches themselves start to trickle down to catch the team bus around 9 a.m., and we’re off to the park by 9:30 a.m.
We hit a bit more traffic than we have for either of the previous night games, and with the delay, the big debate from the night before–the length of Adam Dunn’s homerun–becomes a hot topic once again.
Now there’s more than just bragging rights on the line for Dunn. Callaway is rewarding any professional baseball player who hits a home run over 470 feet with a full set of Diablo Edge clubs. Most of the broadcasters are sure Dunn’s moon ball eclipsed that elusive threshold, but as of this morning, no official word. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear but according to ESPN it went 479 feet.
With the earlier game, it’s pretty much straight to the press box once we get to the park. MASN TV broadcasters Bob Carpenter and Ray Knight are busy scribbling some final pregame notes, reviewing the starting lineups and making sure everything is in order. Bob comments that they have their routine pretty much down to a science at this point.
Bob does a few reads that will be used as part of the pregame show. He and Ray won’t actually be live on-air until moments before first pitch. When the broadcast starts, what you see are actually pre-recorded lead-ins. That’s right…when you’re at home just tuning in to the game, Bob and Ray are relaxing with their pregame meal in the press dining room.
Speaking of food, on the final day of our roadtrip, we’re eager to follow Bob to his Chick-fil-A stand. Much to our chagrin however, the game is so early that the stand at the bottom of the press box stairs isn’t even open yet. Dejectedly, we slump back up the stairs…looks like it’s breakfast for lunch today–scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and some cinnamon buns. It Could be worse.
1. Jose Reyes – SS
2. Luis Castillo – 2B
3. Jason Bay – LF
4. Ike Davis – 1B
5. Angel Pagan – CF
6. Jeff Francoeur – RF
7. Fernando Tatis – 3B
8. Henry Blanco – C
9. RA Dickey – SP
Rod Barajas is out of the starting lineup for the second straight game which is good for Nationals fans. He is batting .323 (21-for-65) with seven home runs, 13 runs and 16 RBI in his last 19 games.
1. Nyjer Morgan – CF
2. Cristian Guzman – 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
4. Adam Dunn – 1B
5. Josh Willingham – LF
6. Ivan Rodriguez – C
7. Roger Bernadina – RF
8. Ian Desmond – SS
9. Livan Hernandez – SP (4-2, 1.46 ERA)
Since the game was rained out in Colorado on Friday night, Livan Hernandez is pitching on only three days rest. It shouldn’t be a problem for the rubber armed veteran. He could probably pitch every other day. Livo faces the Mets for the second time this season. He pitched seven scoreless innings against them on April 11 at Citi Field–his first start of the season.
Adam Dunn is back in the lineup after being held out of the starting lineup the past three games because of flu-like symptoms.
Ian Desmond is becoming more comfortable at shortstop every game. He is also batting .319 (22-for-69) with two home runs, 10 RBI and 10 runs in the last 20 games.
“I think I’m starting to get a little more acclimated,” Desmond said. “I think early on I was probably doing a little too much, just because I was new here and I was trying to get everything figured out. Now I think I’m getting more comfortable, and now it’s just baseball.”
With the 6-4 win against the Mets today, the Nationals are 19-15 and 7-3-1 in series play. The Nationals are off to their best start since moving to the District in 2005. Not to mention, Livan Hernandez has a 1.04 ERA and Tyler Clippard has seven victories.
In 2009, the Nationals didn’t win their 19th game until June 18 and seventh series until July 22.
The Nats are a new team. There is a new attitude and it appears to be the beginning of a new era in Nationals baseball. No matter how you choose to say it, the Nationals are winning games and turning heads everywhere they go now. I pulled some quotes from a variety of clips just to prove it.
Manager Jim Riggleman: “It’s going to be a challenge. But we feel like more and more, other clubs are going to be looking at us like, ‘Hey, it’s going to be a challenge to play those guys.’”
Josh Willingham: “When you win a few games like that, you’re able to believe you can win. That’s what we’re doing. We believe in our pitchers. We believe in our hitters. When we’re in games late, we have confidence we’re going to win them this year.”
“Last year, teams just came in and thought it would be an easy series win. That’s not the case this year. You play better baseball, you get respect from people.”
Livan Hernandez: “We play hard. We’re a team. We play the right way, [and] we’re going to win some games.”
Adam Dunn: “We would have lost this game last year. It seems like we’re finding ways to win close games that in the past we would have lost.”
“You’re not waiting for something bad to happen. It seemed like last year, in a lot of situations, the feeling [was], ‘What’s going to happen now? Something bad’s going to happen.’ This year, it’s … the opposite. Something good’s going to happen. We just don’t know when or how.”
Matt Capps: “We’re resilient out there…We’re fighting all the way to the end. Even the games we haven’t come out on top of, we’ve been in situations in the seventh, eighth, ninth innings to win those ballgames… It’s just a matter of putting it together and maybe a thing or two will go our way.”
Nyjer Morgan: “There is no pressure or buildup on what it takes to play the game. We are professionals. Even the young Ian Desmond, he is a professional. Everybody has each other’s back. We are one cohesive unit, man. It basically started as a problem, but Rizzo is getting the right people in here.”
General Mike Rizzo: “In the past, it would have put us in a funk for days. It would have been, ‘We played well, but we lost. Let’s try again tomorrow.’ These guys work harder than I’ve seen during the four-plus years I’ve been here. They were visibly upset that they didn’t win that game. They probably should have won it. They blew the game, but they were going to do something about it. To me that was the most tell-tale sign that we had a different ballclub than we had in the past.”
There are five weeks (six Mondays) until Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park. The first Spring Training game is this Thursday, a split-squad scrimmage against the Marlins and Astros. We are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.
Last week we highlighted Willie Harris hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Blue Jays the night after Dunn hit a walk-off single.
This week we highlight Adam Dunn once again. On a day known for fireworks and freedom–that would be the Fourth of July–Dunn created his own fireworks when he blasted his 300th career home run to left field. He finished 2009 with 38 home runs, ending his five year streak of hitting at least 40 home runs. He currently sits in17th place among active players with 316 home runs, one behind David Ortiz. Click here to view it on NatsHD or here…
20090704 Dunn 300th HR_hi.mpg …to view, as we like to say, Dunn getting it done.
Sunday is officially photo day but there isn’t a better way to celebrate Friday than with a few photos from today’s first full squad practice. It was the first chance for pitchers to pitch to live batters that didn’t swing. Pitchers and corner infielders focused on fielding bunts but the highlight of today’s workout was watching Adam Dunn practice bunting. I think it is safe to say he will never bunt in a game.
There are seven weeks (eight Mondays) until Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park. We are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.
Last week we acknowledged Justin Maxwell’s personal ability to defy gravity and fly in center field.
The Nats were rolling on June 19. The starters were wheeling and dealing with a 3.11 ERA for the month of June and they had just returned from a series victory over the Yankees in the Bronx. Next up: the Toronto Blue Jays at Nationals Park. The game didn’t involve a rain delay but it was a rollercoaster ride of highs, lows and missed opportunities. The two clubs combined to go 2-for-15 (.133 BA) with runners in scoring position. The Jays left 13 men on base while Washington left 16. But in the bottom of the 11th with the game tied 1-1 and the bases loaded, Adam Dunn drove an 0-2 fastball to right field for the game winning hit.
It was the Nats first walk-off win and extra inning victory of the season. Dunn got it done all season long. He led the Nationals with 15 game winning RBI and 30 go-ahead RBI.
Notes from NatsTown is blogging from the bus throughout the Nationals’ 2010 Winter Caravan.
Today is the fourth and final day of the 2010 Winter Caravan.
10:16 a.m.–As we were walking to the elevator, Adam Dunn appeared out of nowhere and jumped like Michael Jordan onto Josh Willingham’s back. Needless to say, they both fell to the ground like a bag of bricks.
“That definitely felt like 260 pounds,” Willingham said. It might have been the first time Dunn has sneaked up on anyone.
10:29 a.m.–Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow. We just left Nats Park. It is only fitting that the Caravan experiences some weather related problems after the Nats had a billion (22) rain delays during the season. This Caravan operates on the same motto as the United States Postal Service. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow will stop this Nats Caravan.
Our first stop is the Children’s Hospital and then we are heading to the PG Sports Complex to sign a few autographs. We are concluding the 2010 Caravan at White Flint Mall.
11:11 a.m.–As Brian Bruney colored, “You would be the best kindergarten teacher if you didn’t play baseball,” Dibble said. That is tough to debate.
11:32 a.m.–”I can’t lose weight,” Dunn said. Piece of advice: “If you lose weight, you lose bombs.”
11:33 a.m.–”Dunn can you smile for me so I can take a picture of you,” a lady asked. “I can smile with best of them,” he said. “That is a beautiful smile Mr. Dunn,” she replied.
11:39 a.m.–Tuneesha Watson has a granddaughter in the ICU that wasn’t able to attend. She filled in perfectly. She collected an autograph from each player for her granddaughter. “It is so cool to have the players here today,” she said. “The kids will remember this forever.”
12:01–We have left the Children’s Hospital.
1:13–The snow continues to fall but the wheels keep on turning. It definitely made the trip longer… we are right by Fed Ex Field and the traffic is as congested as if it there is a Redskins game today.
1:36–Dunn threw his phone to Zimmerman as if it was a football. It landed well short and hit the ground. “My phone is unbreakable,” Dunn said. Zimmerman threw it back. It hit the wall…a chair… and finally stopped moving when it hit the ground. It was safe… and it’s definitely unbreakable.
2:17–The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation granted the Forestville Boys & Girls Club with $5,000 to assist with programming and equipment needs. The Forestville Boys & Girls Club is an organization with a 49-year history of teaching boys and girls the fundamentals of baseball. Their work has enabled thousands of children and teens to engage in tournament competition and to learn the values of teamwork and embrace the game of baseball.
“We are honored to partner with the Nationals organization on this extremely important project, and extend our heartfelt appreciation for their support of our County’s youth,” said Samuel J. Parker Jr., Chairman of the Prince George’s County Planning Board. “We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship as we work together to teach our young people the fundamentals of leadership and responsibility through the fundamentals of the game of baseball.”
3:02–Our boy Robert Probst from Dover, Del., wasn’t deterred by the snow and made the trip to the autograph session. If you remember from Day Two, he drove to Woodbridge on Thursday night. “I told you I would be here today,” he said. “There is nothing that could have stopped me.” He is also like the USPS. He left his house at 11 a.m. and it took him three and half hours to drive the 80 miles. See ya at NatsFest Robert.
3:34–We are now departing the PG County Sports Complex… and it continues to snow.
3:46–The electronic sign on 495 reads: “EXPECT MAJOR DELAYS… CHOOSE ALTERNATE ROUTE.” Right at this moment the traffic is flowing freely (sounds more like a description of a river)… if only we knew what was ahead of us.
4:08–The Beltway just became a parking lot. We are seven miles away from our destination.
4:40–We have gone two miles in 32 minutes… one of the few crashes.
4:49–This picture doesn’t do justice but there were at least 20 deer prancing and dancing in the snow as if Santa was coming.
4:58–Riggleman made a trip to the front of the bus to talk to Harold the bus driver and possibly call in a reliever to speed things up. He returned to reveal the problem. “I think I found out what the problem is,” Riggleman said. “Traffic jam.”
5:03–Yeah, that car is stuck. It might have been the highlight on the journey. To its credit the car was more determined than The Little Engine that Could. There was just one problem–this car couldn’t. The Mustang tried to get out about every 30 seconds. We kept cheering for it… it didn’t exactly help.
5:25–3.6 miles away. I would be surprised if we arrive by 6 p.m.
5:45–”We are still 2.2 miles away,” Willingham said. “Does anyone have a DVD we can watch.”
6:04–We are sooooo close yet so far away. We just drove in a circle around the mall.
6:13–We made it. It only took 2 hours and 39 minutes to travel 22.2 miles.
7:17–The Caravan is over. It was a fantastic four days. Be sure to make it to NatsFest tomorrow.