Extra work paying off for Dunn

Extra work paying off for Dunn

NEW YORK -- It's only been four games, but Nationals slugger Adam Dunn has been solid playing first base. He looks better coming off the bag and doesn't have any problems scooping balls out of the dirt.

It looked like Dunn couldn't do anything last year right after being switched from left field to first in July. Dunn had little range around the bag and had problems fielding hard-hit ground balls.

So what's the difference this year? Dunn works extremely hard before games. Last year, according to third-base coach/infield coach Pat Listach, it was tough to get Dunn to practice early before games.

"He is working harder," Listach said. "[Last year], it was kind of tough to get him out there and wear him out at first base -- early work. Starting in Spring Training, he will work at first base, do his drills and get his ground balls. Yesterday, even though we had a 4:30 game, I had him out there early. I said to him, 'We are going to be on the road the next seven days, and we are not going to work on the field early. Let's go out and get some work done.' He got his work done."

The biggest advice Listach and Tim Foli, the team's senior assistant to the general manager, told Dunn is to focus on every pitch. So far, he has yet to make an error or mental mistake.

"I know I'm in the right position and not having to think out there. I have to react. It's having fun," Dunn said. "It's a lot easier to do something when you know you don't have to think every two seconds.

"All the work that we did in Spring Training, you are seeing the results now. I'm relaxed and not thinking. [I am] just reacting."

Dunn acknowledged that his attention span wasn't where it should have been while playing in the outfield.

"I think that was a lot of the problem," Dunn said. "The problem was never catching the ball, it was getting bad jumps."