Photo by David Zuckerman / Special to Nats Insider
Adam Dunn belts the second of his two home runs in the Nats' victory.
By now, though, you know Adam Dunn isn't just about any ballplayer. At the plate, he does things very others do (like hit two gargantuan homers tonight to lead the Nationals to a 7-2 victory over the Diamondbacks). Away from the park, he also doesn't act like a typical ballplayer. Which is to say, he leaves his work at the office and doesn't spend a moment of free time worrying about such mundane things as where he'll be playing the next day.
"I really don't think about it at all," he said. "I mean, the only time I think about it is when people ask me or approach me about it. I don't ever think about it on the field. Other guys on the team will ask me, and I'll be like: 'I don't know. You guys probably know as much as I know.'"
Is it tough for Dunn to have that carefree approach to his professional life, or does it just come naturally?
"I mean, I don't go home and work on it," he said with a laugh. "My wife says the same thing, and she hates me for it sometimes. My mom, for instance, is the biggest worrywart in the world. She worries about everything. I'm serious, everything. And I'm like, why? You can't control any of it. I'm not going to stress out and lose sleep over stuff that I can't worry about."
Yet another reason for the Nationals and their fans to be glad they've got Dunn on their side for at least the next two months and perhaps more. How rare is it for an athlete of his stature to genuinely not stress over his employment status?
Remember how Dunn said back in spring training he didn't want contract talks to take place during the season because he didn't want the distraction? Sure doesn't seem like he's been distracted by it.
If anything, all those trade rumors seemed to spur Dunn to raise his game to new heights. Over his last 24 games, he's now batting .291 with 11 homers, 22 RBI, a .374 on-base percentage, a .709 slugging percentage and a stout 1.083 OPS.
"He's been through it before," Jim Riggleman said. "Every year, his name has come up at the trade deadline. He's a pro. He's at that point in his career where, I'm sure it concerns him and his family, but when the umpire says play ball, he's focused on that."
On a practical level, it's sobering to think where the Nationals might be right now without Dunn as a nightly fixture in the cleanup spot. As good as Ryan Zimmerman is, Dunn is the one leading the Nats in almost every offensive category: runs (63), hits (107), total bases (223), doubles (28), homers (28) and RBI (71).
The manager, though, never seriously contemplated life without Dunn.
"It was very unlikely," Riggleman said of a trade before the July 31 deadline. "People aren't going to overwhelm you too much with something they're going to give you. So to be honest with you, I never really scratched out a lineup on a napkin without Dunn in there. Mike [Rizzo] never gave me an indication that something like that would happen."
Players inside the Nationals' clubhouse didn't want to contemplate it, either.
"It would be difficult," said Craig Stammen, who earned the win tonight with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. "I think the biggest thing would be in the clubhouse. He's such a resounding presence. He's not rah-rah, sis-boom-bah, but he's our big leader. We look up to him and Zim as our best players. We love having him on the team. Hopefully we have him for years to come."
There's little reason to believe the distractions will disappear now, even with the July 31 deadline behind us. Word got out yesterday that the Nationals placed Dunn on waivers, a procedural move that happens to dozens of players every year but became cause for panic around NatsTown because of the player involved. There will be plenty more talk about contract negotiations over the season's final two months, and there's a pretty good chance nothing will be resolved when everyone goes their separate ways October 3.
But in the middle of it all, as everyone else wrings their hands and frets over Dunn's future, the guy this most affects will shrug it off as always.
Adam Dunn would much rather hit a baseball 450 feet than worry about getting traded or re-signed.
And the Nationals and their fans couldn't be happier about that.