TAMPA, Fla. -- With an imposing 6-foot-6 frame, 40 or more home runs in each of the past three seasons, plus an enormous strikeout rate, Adam Dunn is no doubt the quintessential slugger. Dunn has certainly made a good living with that reputation. But now the Reds left fielder wants more. This slugger aims to become a better hitter.
Doing that meant going back to the basics for Dunn, and going back to Brook Jacoby. The Reds hired Jacoby in the offseason to replace Chris Chambliss as hitting coach. Dunn and Jacoby have a history of working together in the Minors when Jacoby was a roving instructor. "He knows me. I've known him a long time," said Dunn, who has 198 career homers since 2001. "He's seen me at my best. He knows what to do. He's the one that got me here." Dunn batted .234 last season with 40 homers and 92 RBIs, while leading the Majors with 194 strikeouts. With a .365 on-base percentage, he still managed to be a selective hitter and led the National League with 112 walks. What sent Dunn home for the winter to do some soul searching was his performance over the final two months. The 27-year-old batted .176 (33-for-188) from Aug. 1 through the end of the season. Not long after he took the job in November, Jacoby visited Dunn at his Houston home. For a couple of days, the coach watched his left-handed swinging pupil take cuts in the batting cage. "We talked about cause and effect with his swing," said Jacoby, who was a Major League third baseman from 1981-92, mostly with the Indians. "What causes the things that are happening?" Apparently, there were a lot of factors. After joining the Reds, Jacoby watched video of Dunn's swing and noticed a difference from the early years. He saw mechanical issues. The front hip opened too much. Dunn couldn't get down on the ball quick enough. "The biggest thing I noticed was he was late getting ready to hit," Jacoby said. Eager to get a jump on the 2007 season, Dunn worked out all winter and shed some weight from his 275-pound body. He reported to camp ahead of schedule and is an early participant each morning with Jacoby in the cage. Dunn has also listened to Jacoby and opened his mind to changing his approach.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.