When it comes to hitting slumps, Greg Walker thought he had seen it all. In his nine seasons with the White Sox, he’s helped a lot of desperate players work through horrendous stretches.
“Sometimes it’s physical. Sometimes it’s mental. Sometimes they just have no talent,” Walker said. “But this is my first slump that’s computer-based.”
Walker is referring to the season-long train wreck of Adam Dunn, the high-priced automatic out whose paltry numbers have reduced fans to calling for Mark Teahen to take over the DH role, a sure sign of desperation.
“We tried film work. We tried extra BP. We tried verbal abuse,” Walker said. “Then Adam asked me if he could use this 6-inch plastic bat that weighs two ounces. I told him to go for it.”
Details have surfaced that the custom bat Dunn now prefers is actually a Wii accessory. During a closed batting practice, Dunn reportedly sprayed tape-measure shots all over the concourse, one-handed, simply by flicking his wrist.
“I played Wii for hours at a time all off-season, and I think I messed up my swing a little bit,” Dunn admitted. “Playing Wii, you pretty much hack away at every pitch. That works OK against your kid, but it’s the wrong approach against big league pitchers.”
There’s considerable doubt as to whether MLB regulations will permit Dunn to use the Wii bat in game action. In the meantime, Walker is trying to bridge the gap between Dunn’s Wii swing and the one the team counted on for 30-plus HR and 100-plus RBI.
“We’re talking to Roger Bossard about wheeling a 72-inch flat screen behind the mound whenever Adam comes up, to simulate a Wii game, but that could get complicated,” Walker said. “I doubt an old cuss like Leyland would allow it.”
By Dave Gallagher. Photoshop by Mike Gonzalez