Fourth season in White Sox deal crucial to former Washington National Adam Dunn

By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 3, 2010; 11:17 PM

Adam Dunn introduced himself to Chicago on Friday afternoon, in a news conference at U.S. Cellular Field, his new home for the next four years. Dunn joked, because he always jokes. He said he told Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams he would play catcher if he had to, "but I see A.J. [Pierzynski] signed. So I'm good." About his new manager, the famously outspoken Ozzie Guillen, Dunn said: "I'm kind of a loud guy, too. So we're going to get along."

Later, Dunn got serious about the team and the city he left to in order to sign a four-year, $56 million contract. First, he thanked Nationals fans, who chanted for the team to re-sign him, and gave him a standing ovation after his final at Nationals Park, an at-bat that concluded an 0-for-4, four-strikeout game. He also revealed the lack of vigor with which the Nationals pursued him following the regular season.

"I think that I spent two really good years there," Dunn said in a one-on-one interview following his press conference. "I think everyone realized how much I liked it there. I can't say enough of the fan support there. The fans were, you know, above and beyond. Washington will always have a special place in my heart. I think that the opportunity arose to play for a team that had a chance to win a ring, and that's the ultimate goal."

Dunn held out hope for returning to the Nationals until late in the season, saying as late as Sept. 20 that he thought he would be a National in 2011.

"I think the time that I really realized it wasn't going to happen was probably when we couldn't really get a deal done by the end of the season," Dunn said. "I thought that that was kind of the turning point."

By the last week of the season, the Nationals had offered a three-year contract worth roughly $35 million. Dunn leaves negotiations to his agents, but he said, as far he was aware, the Nationals never made a new offer. Asked how much contact he had with the Nationals between now and the end of the season, Dunn said, "I don't believe that there's been any."

The difference for Dunn, as he said all along, was the security the fourth year of a contract would provide. There was seemingly doubt within the Nationals he would be able to get that fourth year in free agency, but he did.

"That fourth year is very important to me," Dunn said. "I don't believe that the Nationals would have matched it."

Once Dunn realized the Nationals would not add that fourth year, he hoped he would land with the White Sox. Dunn has never played for a winning team, and only Randy Winn, among active players, has played in more regular season games without a postseason appearance. He believes the White Sox can win, so much that he deferred part of his salary to help Williams make a better offer to free agent first baseman Paul Konerko.

"This was my No. 1 place that I wanted to go," Dunn said during his press conference. "I love the city. I think I made that pretty clear. I'm coming to a team that's already proven. I'm coming to a great team, great pitching staff. I just thought it was going to be a great fit. This is where I wanted to be.

"I know I'm joining a team that's already very successful. It's a great opportunity to not just win, but to win a World Series. That's everyone's goal, and that's what I want to do."

This season, Dunn expressed his desire to remain in the National League because of his disdain for playing the role of designated hitter. But by Friday, he changed his outlook. He said he would DH with no problem, a concession made for the sake of playing for a winner.

"I'm okay to do anything," Dunn said. "This is really my first chance to really contend for a World Series. I'll do whatever they want me to do."

Dunn nearly landed in Chicago five months earlier, when the White Sox tried to pry him loose from the Nationals at the trade deadline. The sides could not strike a deal, and Dunn, typically able to look past distractions, blocked out the talk then.

"I try to ignore all that stuff," Dunn said. "I was a Washington National at that time, and enjoyed every second of it. I didn't want to do anything but concentrate on the games with those guys. I think things happen for a reason, and that's why I'm here right now."

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