ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first nine games this season, the White Sox offense produced a .307 average, a .367 on-base percentage, 11 home runs and 23 doubles, while scoring 62 runs.
That strong opening reinforced hitting coach Greg Walker's good feelings about where his hitters stood as they departed Spring Training.
"We were playing slow-pitch softball the first week of the season," Walker said. "But you have to stay light on your feet and make adjustments. Right now, we have to make an adjustment."
During the past nine games, of which the White Sox have lost eight, that average has dipped to .193. The on-base percentage has plummeted to .259, with a mere 20 runs scored.
Walker readily acknowledges that the White Sox have faced a run of All-Star hurlers, with credit going to the likes of the Angels' Jered Weaver and Dan Haren and Tampa Bay's David Price and James Shields, as manager Ozzie Guillen, first baseman Paul Konerko and losing pitcher John Danks pointed out on Tuesday. But Walker also understands those good pitchers aren't exactly going to be replaced by Minor League copies in the always-tough American League.
"You like to look at first cause, what is the cause to try to solve the problem, and that first cause is we faced some of the best pitching in baseball over the last week," Walker said. "A lot of these guys will be on the All-Star team, but to be honest with you, there is a lot of good pitching in the AL right now. It doesn't get a lot easier, so we have to get better.
"The second thing is we got frustrated, and last night, we were swinging at everything. Frustration leads to a bad approach and a bad decision-making process on what pitches to swing at. We've got to gut it up and go back to the basics and get pitches in the strike zone and not try to do too much and put together a good game and build off of that."
Dunn not making excuses for offensive woes
ST. PETERSBURG -- Adam Dunn doesn't really care where he hits in the White Sox lineup, whether it be the third spot he has held for 10 games, or the fifth spot manager Ozzie Guillen dropped him to on Wednesday. Dunn simply wants to get back in that groove he had going on prior to an emergency appendectomy performed in Kansas City on April 6.
"I need to get that feel back I had before I had the stupid surgery," Dunn said. "You know, hopefully it will be sooner than later. I feel great. I have no excuses whatsoever. I feel great until I start swinging.
"Then, for some reason, my swing path is not there. It has got me swinging at everything. But I know it will come around. I just don't know when."
With one double in three at-bats against Wade Davis and the Rays during Wednesday's 4-1 loss, Dunn has three hits in 26 at-bats since returning from the six-game absence caused by the appendectomy. He struck out 15 times during that stretch.
Dunn has 18 strikeouts in 40 at-bats, but the more interesting number would be his eight walks to date. The left-handed slugger will strike out 150 times per year, but he also regularly draws at least 100 walks.
As part of this current funk, Dunn seems to find himself in an 0-2 hole during almost every at-bat, leaving him at the mercy of opposing hurlers working him over with offspeed pitches.
"They obviously see what I feel," said Dunn, who feels fortunes could change for him as quickly as one swing that clicks. "They are pitching accordingly to that, and I'm not really making the adjustment too well right now.
"I'm taking the good ones and swinging at the bad ones. But again, that's something I have gone through many, many, many, many, many, many, many times in my career. One thing I know is that I will come out of it. I've been there so many times."
Pierzynski objects to strike, gets ejected
ST. PETERSBURG -- The sixth-inning ejection of A.J. Pierzynski during Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Rays probably was the quietest of the five ejections during the catcher's career.
"He said not a nice thing to the umpire," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "I think he was upset with one of the pitches, and they kicked him out."
Pierzynski appeared to take umbrage with a strike called by home-plate umpire Brian Knight on the first pitch from Wade Davis of his sixth-inning at-bat. After his bouncer to second was fielded by Ben Zobrist with Adam Dunn on second and two outs, Pierzynski said something to Knight as he walked back to the dugout, and was ejected.
It was an ejection of frustration for Pierzynski, with the team's struggles playing as much of a part as much as anger toward Knight.
"Probably a little of both," Pierzynski said. "It's always frustrating when you lose. I told him, it happened, it's over and you move on."
Struggling Rios lobbies to stay in lineup
ST. PETERSBURG -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had planned to give center fielder Alex Rios a day off during the four-game set at Tropicana Field, with Rios battling through a chronic big toe injury, an 0-for-10 start to the road trip and a .183 average with four RBIs. But Rios told Guillen that he wanted to stay in the lineup.
There doesn't seem to be a natural replacement for Rios in center field among Omar Vizquel, Brent Lillibridge and Mark Teahen. But Guillen expressed confidence in making Lillibridge his utility outfielder.
"Lillibridge can play center field," Guillen said. "I think Lillibridge can play some outfield. I don't know about the infield. You see him so secure there, so much confidence out there, I don't mind playing him in the outfield at all, even late in the game, I don't mind playing him there."
Third to first
In the past three seasons, the White Sox have had just two losing streaks of seven or more games. The White Sox are 0-3 on this three-city, 11-game road trip and 3-5 on the road. The current 7-11 record for the White Sox is the same mark they had after 18 games in 2010. Fourteen of Carlos Quentin's 21 hits this season have gone for extra bases, including his fourth home run in Wednesday's 4-1 loss.