It was a close call for Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn, as the veteran was assessing which hurt more -- the strained right oblique muscle that kept him out of the Sunday night finale against the Detroit Tigers or the emotional pain of being out of the lineup.
His misery increased when the White Sox lost 4-2 to the Tigers, who completed a three-game series sweep and tied Chicago for the AL Central lead.
"I want to be in there," Dunn said. "I understand why I'm not. I guess I'd rather miss (Sunday) than miss (30) games. To sit there and watch a big game like that and can't do anything, it (stinks). I love playing. ...
"I've never had anything like this to where you can't swing. If I could even remotely, I would do it. That's the thing, other little nicks and knacks, you can cover them up, but it's kind of hard to fake this one."
As far as a return, it's day-by-day, but Dunn wasn't sounding very optimistic that there was a quick cure on the way. The fact that his swing is so violent doesn't make it any easier to project. Manager Robin Ventura was forced to get creative with his lineup, using catcher A.J. Pierzynski as the designated hitter.
With or without Dunn, the Sox coaching staff was frustrated with the hitters and their approach on what was an ugly road trip, which started with a 1-3 visit to Baltimore and was followed by the disappointment in Detroit. Bench coach Mark Parent acknowledged that the starting pitchers have struggled on the trip, but the offense didn't exactly do them any favors, either.
"The last couple of days, starting pitchers have been getting behind so early so much, it's just putting quite a bit of pressure on guys to do a little more than they need to instead of just having good at-bats," Parent said. "It was working out well when we hit home runs. There's still a lot to be said for putting three or four hits together in an inning. That's what we're going through right now. We're trying to do too much at the plate.
"We need to get walks, base hits, hit-and-run, bunt, get guys over and score when we need to. When we're doing those things, we're pretty good."
The feast-or-famine approach was again on display Sunday night, with the only run the Sox could muster off Justin Verlander coming on a leadoff homer from Alejandro De Aza in the first inning.
"There's too many guys in that room who have too much to prove and want to finish up a good year," Parent added. "A lot of young players who have good years try to protect their year (in the last month). These guys aren't worried about protecting their year, they're trying to get to the playoffs, get all they can, show people last year was not the norm.
"We've got guys who want to win and get in the playoffs."