GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Baseball loves its routines. Players ground themselves in the familiar, and success is measured by your ability to repeat what works, whether it's the mechanics of a pitcher's motion or the execution of meeting the sweet spot on a bat with the rawhide-covered ball.
So, although newly-minted White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn has some adjustments to make after a 10-year career as a National League outfielder and first baseman, the White Sox are relishing the chance to have a hitter of Dunn's caliber in the lineup as the team's regular DH.
"[If he has to be on the field to be comfortable at he plate, then] he's going to feel uncomfortable a lot. He's not going to be on the field that much," manager Ozzie Guillen joked Thursday. "Adam's attitude is fit for the ballclub. He's very loose. He's an outgoing guy, very goofy. I think we need that. We got a lot of guys who are tense. Having a funny guy on the team who can make people be loose and have fun -- we need that. He'll be fine with this bunch of guys."In 2010, the White Sox employed a DH-by-committee approach, going through 15 different DHs, with everyone from Omar Vizquel to Juan Pierre having a crack at it, while Mark Kotsay led all comers with 46 games in the role. There was a method to the mayhem, using the spot as a way to keep position players fresh with a day of reduced duty, but the team has set its sites on Dunn as a dependable everyday DH, and the slugger is spending his spring adjusting to a new role.
"Obviously it's still baseball," Dunn said Thursday, before his first Cactus League game in the field. "I'm just trying to get myself ready for the start of the season. I'm going about it just like I normally have in the past."
Ironically, there's a limit to what Dunn can do to establish his own in-game pattern, given the discrepancy in resources at Camelback Ranch and other Spring Training ballparks compared to the nearly standard indoor cages available at big league ballparks, where players retreat throughout the games to sync up their swings.
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Though the DH is in its fifth decade, there's still no blueprint for players taking on the role after being accustomed to playing both sides of the ball. Dunn has done his homework, talking to past masters for advice and insight, but it's clear to him his approach to the role will be a work in progress as the season progresses.
"I've tried to talk to as many people as I can," Dunn said. "I've talked to everyone from Frank Thomas to Travis Hafner, who's done it a lot. It seems like everyone has a different routine, but the one thing they have in common is they have a routine. I need to find what mine's going to be."
Meanwhile, Dunn relies on the familiar, taking his first baseman's mitt out to infield practice every day, shagging flies in the outfield, and continuing the pursuit of a perfect power swing. Through the course of his career, his swing has netted him at least 26 home runs in every full big league season, and 32 or more homers in each of the last seven seasons.
"I'm going about it just like I normally have in the past," Dunn said. "I feel like I'm right where I normally am at this time. I just want to make sure when it's my turn to hit, I'm ready."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.