PITTSBURGH – Adam Dunn was told he was getting the final day of the season off.
But because Norris Hopper had a sore hamstring, Dunn was out there after some chiding of Hopper.
“I got my invite to spring training,” Dunn said.
Dunn played for the 160th time in 162 games. It’s the third straight year he’s hit the 160-game mark.
The Reds, by the way, lost to the Pirates 1-0. The only significance is the Reds finished 80-82, so the streak of losing seasons goes to six.
“It’s hurtful,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “but not as hurtful as not making the postseason.”
Dunn was one of two regulars who played in the game. You can question a lot of things about Dunn – and fans do so constantly – but you can’t question his durability or his willingness to play hurt.
There’s the possibility that Sunday’s season finale could have been Dunn’s last game as a Red.
If general manager Wayne Krivsky wants to continue to remake the club -- and indications are he does -- Dunn is the biggest chip to trade.
Krivsky has traded three players like Dunn -- big swingers with a tendency to strike out -- for pitching.
“I don’t worry about it,” he said. “I’ve said it every time I’ve heard my name mentioned about a trade. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”
Dunn, 26, had his worst year since 2003. He hit .234 with 40 home runs and 92 RBI and struck out 194 times. In 2005, he hit .247 with 40 home runs and 101 RBI and struck out 166 times.
Dunn’s season was ruined by an awful September. He hit .157 for the month. He had 87 RBI through 126 games. He had five in the last 36 games.
Narron was asked if there was anything Dunn could do different to avoid such a bad September.
“I think I can help,” Narron said. “I think I can give him some time off during the year better than I have. I think if plays maybe 145 or 150 games instead of 160, there’s a possibility that his September will be better.
“That’s something I’ve got to do. I’m not making an excuse for him.”
Dunn never makes excuses for himself. He is as self-deprecating as they come.
When the scoreboard picture at Dolphins Stadium showed him with a handlebar mustache, Dunn threatened to grow one.
“If you play like an ass, you might as well look like an ass,” he said.
Ken Griffey Jr. overheard the remark and said: “Don’t say that. You’re hurting my feelings.”
Griffey thinks Dunn should ease up on Dunn a bit.
“He’s too hard on himself only because he wants to do well,” Griffey said. “If he wasn’t that hard on himself, it would mean he didn’t care. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Adam cares about the way he hits, the way he fields, the way he runs the bases. He cares.”
But Dunn is the guy fans love to hate.
“He takes a lot of abuse out in the outfield,” Griffey said. “He goes out there and gives it a solid effort. No one can say he’s not out there trying.”
Dunn will occasionally fire back at critics, but mostly he just takes it.
“You always want to fire back,” he said. “I don’t care. I don’t play for them. They expect a lot of me. That’s fine.”
But Dunn bristles at the notion that he doesn’t give it his best effort or doesn’t work hard.
“I wouldn’t play 160 games if I wasn’t trying,” he said. “You have work hard to play 160 games and do it every year you’ve got to be doing something to keep your body right. I work to keep my body in shape to keep me in there for 160 games. That’s pretty good.”
Narron says he’s been satisfied with Dunn’s effort.
“People want him to run out on the field like Ryan Freel,” Narron said. “He’s not going to do that. Even if he does that, he’s not going to look like Ryan Freel. The guy’s 6-6, 270 pounds.”
This was Dunn’s first foray into meaningful September baseball. He’s learned something from it.
“I think a lot of it had to do with me trying to do much, maybe trying to hard,” he said. “Other than that, I don’t know. Physically, I’m fine. I’ve got no excuse there.”
There he goes again.
“He is so hard on himself, harder than anyone else,” Griffey said. “But that’s the way you have to be to play this game.”