Same Dunn, new outlook
Top management impresses slugger
By Marc Lancaster
Post staff reporter
SARASOTA, Fla. - No one really expected Adam Dunn to act any differently now that he has a hefty new contract guaranteed to pay him at least $18.5 million the next two years.
Indeed, Dunn showed up for his first workout of the spring Monday in shorts and the ubiquitous University of Texas baseball cap. Nothing new there.
"Everything's the same," said Dunn. "Other than having to listen to Richie Rich himself."
That would be Ken Griffey Jr., who felt obliged to hound one of his best friends on the team for buying a Bentley during the offseason. It's not a replacement for the truck Dunn already owns, just a supplement. And the new first baseman noted he ordered it well before he signed that multi-year deal this month.
Even if not much of substance has changed for Dunn, he already has noticed a difference in the Reds since Bob Castellini and Wayne Krivsky took over. In fact, Dunn probably wouldn't have the contract he just signed if the change at the top hadn't happened.
Former general manager Dan O'Brien said last month that he intended to focus solely on a one-year deal with the remaining arbitration-eligible players. By the time Krivsky arrived, Dunn was the only one left, and the new GM quickly decided a multi-year deal "made the most sense."
Though Dunn left the negotiating to his agent, Greg Genske, he said he has spoken with Castellini and Krivsky and came away impressed.
"The way that it was handled, it was the first time in a long time that a negotiation was the way it's supposed to be - I'm assuming," said Dunn. "That's not a knock on the other guys; these guys are just really professional and it's kind of like they know what they want."
The 26-year-old slugger knows what he wants - to stay in Cincinnati and be part of a winning team sooner rather than later. That showed in the clause inserted in his contract that would void the $13 million club option for 2008 if the Reds decide to trade him. That would be Dunn's first year eligible for free agency, and he was willing to give it up for the Reds but not any other team.
"I'm very happy here," Dunn said. "That was my whole thing, I basically would like to do a deal to where, I don't want to go anywhere. I like it here, but on the other hand, I definitely wanted an ownership that would come in and prove that they wanted not just to be competitive, but to win. I think they definitely have the right two men for the job (in Castellini and Krivsky)."
None of the players had much interaction with former CEO Carl Lindner, and many had a difficult time relating to O'Brien. From his point of view, anyway, Dunn said he's pleased to see those in power positions in the organization as accessible as Castellini and Krivsky have been so far.
"I can't wait to sit down and talk to them (some more) - they seem like people I can talk to," Dunn said. "You know how it is with people in that position, but these guys seem as normal as can be."
That appeals to Dunn and others in the clubhouse, and has gone a long way toward generating a level of optimism in camp that runs a layer deeper than the usual spring training happy-talk.
Not that there won't be challenges this spring. Dunn will take a crash course at first base, a position he hasn't played regularly since high school, but he said he doesn't think the transition from left field will be a problem.
He also said his right hand, which he may have broken a couple of times last year but never allowed the Reds' medical staff to X-ray because he refused to sit out, felt fine.
"It's perfect," Dunn said, shortly before heading to Ed Smith Stadium for a round of batting practice.
As Dunn whacked batting practice fastballs over the wall, it was as if nothing had changed.