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Originally published June 23, 2012 at 4:52 PM | Page modified June 23, 2012 at 5:02 PM

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Adam Dunn's strikeouts overshadowed by his home-run swings | Larry Stone notebook

Adam Dunn is having a weird and fascinating season. He's on pace to hit just . 222 and shatter the major-league record strikeouts in a season...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Adam Dunn is having a weird and fascinating season.

He's on pace to hit just .222 and shatter the major-league record strikeouts in a season of 223, set by Arizona's Mark Reynolds in 2009. Entering the weekend, Dunn had 111 strikeouts in the White Sox's first 70 games, putting him in line to whiff an astounding 257 times.

So why is Dunn an All-Star candidate? Because he's also on pace to hit 53 homers and drive in 123 runs. After signing a big free-agent contract with the White Sox last year (four years, $56 million) and struggling through a wretched 2011 season, Dunn is also on pace for 130 walks. He has a .368 on-base percentage and .547 slugging percentage for an outstanding .915 OPS.

Frank Thomas, a pretty good White Sox hitter in his day, told the Chicago Tribune, "You hit 50-plus bombs, drive in 120-something runs, nobody's going to care about the strikeouts."

Pitchers may start knuckling down

Is R.A. Dickey, suddenly the hottest pitcher in baseball with his 11-1 record and back-to-back one-hitters, at the forefront of a new movement? Mets manager Terry Collins thinks it could be the case.

"With what this guy is doing, the knuckleball could be the next big pitch in the game," Collins told the New York Post. "There was the split-finger, there's the cutter. Next it could be the knuckleball."

Collins added, "We were talking today about a couple pitchers in this organization who are pretty good pitchers, if they can learn the knuckleball that would be something."

Notes

Jamie Moyer was released, at his request, by the Orioles on Saturday, when the ballclub declined to call him up from Class AAA Norfolk, where he was 1-1 with a 1.69 earned-run average in three starts.

With three starters in their rotation struggling — Tommy Hunter, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz — the Orioles could give another look to Chris Tillman, who came in the Adam Jones trade with the Mariners. Tillman is 6-8, 4.02 at Norfolk but has thrown quality starts in four of his last five games.

• Tigers ace Justin Verlander had to miss last year's All-Star Game because he started the Sunday before. This year, however, he's lined up for a potential All-Star start, which would be his first. His final start before the break is scheduled for Wednesday, July 4, allowing him to be on full rest going into the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City, Mo.

• Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner made his first major-league start of the season Thursday against the Cardinals. Their manager, Mike Matheny, mentored Turner when he was a senior in high school in suburban St. Louis three years ago, when Matheny's son was on the same team. Turner had a no-decision in Detroit's 2-1 win.

"I was proud of Jacob when he first made it up," Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I know he's going to have a long career. Today was all about wanting to see him give up a whole bunch of runs early. That's what our job is."

• A pitcher's fortunes can turn in an instant. Not that long ago, Braves starter Brandon Beachy emerged as an All-Star candidate, putting up a 2.00 ERA in his first 13 starts. That tied him with Dickey for the National League lead, and he topped the NL with a .171 opponents average.

But Beachy went down with an elbow injury on June 16, and last week underwent Tommy John surgery. He's not expected back until around next year's All-Star break.

The Braves called up last year's All-Star, Jair Jurrjens, to take Beachy's rotation spot, and have been among the half-dozen teams scouting Cubs starter Matt Garza.

• Texas closer Joe Nathan has converted 13 consecutive save chances, giving him a .8932 conversion rate for his career (276 of 309). That pushed him into the top spot all-time among pitchers with at least 250 save opportunities. He moved past Mariano Rivera, who has a career conversion rate of .8928 (608 of 681).

"Mariano is a guy I've looked up to and respected," Nathan told the Dallas Morning News. "I've learned a lot from him about how to handle yourself. I've learned it's about getting the job done, not about celebrating. It's about respecting the game and your opponents."

• Speaking of the Rangers, they should be happy Houston is moving into the AL West, where they'll have many more opportunities to dominate the Astros. The Rangers are 5-1 against their natural rival this year, and 19-5 over the past four years.

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