Tuesday, February 26, 2002

SULLIVAN: Adam Dunn


Just a big kid despite big future

By Tim Sullivan
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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        SARASOTA, Fla. — Adam Dunn is almost housebroken.

        At the advanced age of 22, the Reds' outfield phenom has finally learned how to load the dishwasher. Next up, says Aaron Boone, is laundry night. If Dunn fails to realize his baseball potential, he may eventually be able to find work as a chambermaid.

        “He left a cereal bowl out next to the chair and I made him take it in and do the dishes,” Boone said of his spring training housemate Monday afternoon. ’“He did it and he was proud of himself. He's never done the dishes. He's never done his laundry. He's never made his bed. I'm trying to domesticate him.”

[img]
Reds outfielder Adam Dunn takes batting practice while hitting coach Jim Lefebvre watches his swing.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        Dunn may soon have the means to hire his own butler, maid, chauffeur and toothpaste cap-replacer, but for the moment he must perform his own mundane chores. For the moment, his greatest concern is not how to cope with stardom but whether to wash his cottons in warm water.

        His is still a simple life. His celebrity is not yet all-consuming. There is still a boisterous young boy rattling around inside that mastadon's body.

        Except for his offseason visit to the Playboy Mansion, Dunn has really not seen anything yet. That figures to change fairly soon.

       

Spectacular prospect

               Dunn's rapid-fire promotions, his prodigious power and his extraordinary potential have made him one of baseball's most spectacular prospects in decades. ESPN's Peter Gammons wrote recently that the 2001 season would ultimately be remembered as the year Adam Dunn made it to the major leagues.

        “I think he's going to do some really special things in this game,” Aaron Boone said. ’“When I think about him and what he's going to mean to this team this year, I'm counting on him to be a monster.”

        ’Dunn engenders the kind of expectations that can be a burden on a young ballplayer. Yet as much as the Reds believe in the young Texan's talent, they are equally taken by his temperament.

        ’“You're not going to succeed if you don't have the talent,” Reds general manager Jim Bowden said. ’“The ones with the makeup and the character are the ones who take it to the next level. I don't think Adam Dunn needs any nurturing. You just let him go.”

       

Strong mental makeup
               Consultant Jon Niednagel, who advises the Reds on the mental makeup of club employees, compares Dunn's personality to that of Jason Giambi, the free-wheeling first baseman of the New York Yankees. ’“He's not a here-and-now guy,” Niednagel said. Rather, Dunn is the type of person who takes the long view; who can absorb setbacks without overreacting; smart enough to fix a flaw without ’“flying off the handle.”

        In these respects, he may be better suited to stardom than is Ken Griffey Jr. “I don't think Junior's understood very well,” Dunn said. ’“I've had the chance to play with him a year and he's been nothing but great.”

        Dunn is not frightened by Griffey's recent experiences in the spotlight. Neither is he the type to change his persona to fit fame. ’“I'm not going to change,” he said. ’"I'm a pretty loud guy, a pretty outspoken guy.”

        Example: “Aaron (Boone) would be a great wife if he were a woman.”

       Contact Tim Sullivan at 768-8456 or e-mail: tsullivan@enquirer.com.
       

       



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