CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn has been out of the White Sox starting lineup for three straight games, partially because he had looked a little tired, according to White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
Ventura will have Dunn back in action Tuesday night in Cleveland against Ubaldo Jimenez. But Dunn understands at-bats can disappear for extended periods down the stretch with a team out of contention looking at young players.
"Just giving a lot of guys some really good looks against some really good teams," said Dunn of the young players getting frequent playing time. "That's the good part about, if there is a good part, evaluating what you have against good competition.
"That's also the bad part. Some people have to sit and watch. I understand, and it's good to kind of evaluate the kids, too."
Dunn chose not to put his general manager's hat on when asked about the young players, aside from stating that he has been impressed and that most of the players who were called up "look like they belong and like they are not out of place."
As for Dunn himself, his third year with the White Sox featured three months from June to August where he was as steady and productive as any hitter in the lineup. He also had dismal months to fight through in April, May and a 7-for-54 showing in September with two homers and four RBIs. Surprisingly, Dunn said the feeling at the plate hasn't been much different from when he's on target to when he's off the mark.
"You know, there's not, other than there were a few little things that's different from when I was swinging the bat good to when I wasn't," Dunn said. "For the most part, I felt pretty good all year.
"We've got a good base, a good foundation to go into the offseason and build on. Me and [White Sox hitting coach] Jeff [Manto] have continued to try and do the same thing. Hopefully in Spring Training, everything will pick right back up after having a full year to really feel in a pretty good place."
The White Sox have not lost confidence in Dunn, who has one year remaining on a four-year, $56 million deal.
"He had a stretch from early June until the start of this past month where he was really one of the better hitters in the American League," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com about Dunn in a recent interview. "He was getting on base, he was hitting home runs. He was using the other side of the field a little bit more than we've seen the last couple of weeks.
"A player with his track record historically tends not to lose that overnight, much less a guy who showed you for a three-month stretch in the midst of the most recent season that he can be an impact hitter."
Santiago to return to rotation Tuesday
CHICAGO -- After not pitching since a home loss against the Indians on Sept. 13, Hector Santiago returns to the mound Tuesday at Progressive Field for his final 2013 start.
Manager Robin Ventura gave Santiago an extended rest when he noticed the southpaw looked a bit tired in his past couple of trips to the mound. Santiago set a personal single-season high with his 142 2/3 innings thrown this year, while posting a 3.47 ERA and 121 strikeouts over 124 1/3 innings in 22 games as a starter.
Dylan Axelrod makes his 20th start of the year Wednesday night in Cleveland, with Andre Rienzo, Chris Sale, Erik Johnson and Jose Quintana facing the Royals in that order at home to finish the year. Rienzo has been battling a blister problem and could move back a day or two with Sale and Johnson moving up a day.
Konerko gets advice from Ripken about future
CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko ultimately will make the final call on what his future holds after this 15th season as part of the White Sox comes to a close. But the cerebral captain is not above seeking a little advice from players who have been there in making this decision.
That list includes Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., who interviewed Konerko with his brother, Billy, Friday on the MLB Radio Network. The question posed to Konerko during the informative interview dealt with Andy Pettitte's retirement and morphed into where Konerko stands.
"Right now, it's getting through these next nine days. Then go home and try to figure it all out," Konerko said. "I'm looking for advice from anybody. What do you guys got for me?"
Billy deferred to his brother, who played all 21 season with the Orioles. Cal told Konerko that as you become older as a player, winning becomes even more important and admitted that he couldn't have gone through a rebuilding process in Baltimore the year after he retired.
"Take some time off and clear your head and look at where you are and what you want to do," Ripken Jr. told Konerko. "I wouldn't leave the game earlier than you want to.
"Most people say, 'Well he's not what he was,' and you are measuring him against what he was. You are still deserving and one of the best players on the roster. Don't short yourself on that. Decide on what you want to do and don't let anyone else decide."
And Konerko's response to these true words of wisdom?
"All right," Konerko said. "I like it."
Third to first
• When asked for the most disappointing aspect of this disappointing season, Ventura pointed to his team's defense.
"You just can't win games if you play defense like that," Ventura said. "That's been proven over the history of the game. You can't give the extra opportunities. You are giving away outs and runs.
"When you play bad defense, you put more pressure on the pitchers and your offense to score. Nobody wants to be the guy who hits into the double play to end the inning because you just gave them extra outs and gave up some runs."
The White Sox rank last in the Majors with a .980 fielding percentage and 117 errors. They topped the Majors in 2012 with a franchise-record .988 fielding mark and just 70 errors.
• The White Sox will finish with a losing home record for the second time in three seasons.
• Avisail Garcia is hitting .375 with a triple, two homers, 12 RBIs and nine runs scored over his last 16 games.
• Dustin Hermanson, who had 34 saves for the 2005 World Series champion White Sox, threw out one of Monday's first pitches.