CHICAGO -- For the White Sox offense to work at its highest level, Adam Dunn has to produce in the middle of the order.
The White Sox designated hitter certainly isn't alone in these expectations, with Paul Konerko and Alex Rios also in that potent group. But Dunn is more than willing to embrace the offensive pressure being put upon his broad shoulders.
"I'll take it all. I know that if I'm swinging the bat like I'm capable of swinging it, we're going to score a lot of runs," Dunn said. "If I'm not, we probably won't score a lot of runs. But I'm fine with that."
Despite feeling great since Spring Training, Dunn got off to a miserable start, with his average sitting as low as .133 on May 13. He followed up that rough stretch with six homers and 15 RBIs in the last 12 games. Mixed into that success was an 0-for-17 funk that Dunn broke with a two-run homer in Sunday's 5-3 victory over the Marlins.
Dunn has battled back soreness since leaving a game against the Angels on May 18, and he said Monday that the problem is not great, but not terrible. He's looking to get into another hot streak to offset the problems caused by the back that interrupted a pretty good run.
"I've always been kind of a streaky guy that will be horrible for a couple weeks then have one or two months to kind of carry everything," Dunn said. "I'm kind of used to that now. I've just got to get on base more, and that's something that I'm not doing right now at all. That's something that I need to do. Other than that, I'm not too worried. We just need to get hot at the right time.
"My thing is, I get out of my game plan as far as sometimes I'll swing at pitches early in the count that I probably wouldn't normally do because I don't want to get too deep into counts. But then I get deep into counts because I swing at pitches that I normally wouldn't. You just got to stay the course and stay with my approach, quit changing it every at-bat, it seems like."
Crain setting stage for late-inning excellence
CHICAGO -- When Jesse Crain has entered a game in the eighth inning this season, one thought has gone through White Sox closer Addison Reed's mind.
"When he's in, I'm pretty positive the score is going to stay the way it is," said Reed of the team's exceptional setup man.
Crain entered Monday's series opener with the Cubs needing one more appearance and 1 2/3 innings to match his career highs (21 games and 20 innings pitched) for consecutive scoreless streaks. His 15 holds are tied with Kelly Wunsch (2000) for the second-highest total by a White Sox pitcher before the All-Star break.
Having Crain and Reed at the back end of the White Sox bullpen makes for a fairly airtight combination, leaving the team 18-2 when leading after seven and 20-1 when leading after eight.
"It makes me want to keep on throwing up zeros and try to catch him, if anything," said Reed with a laugh. "What he's doing is unbelievable and fun to watch out there. He's one of the hardest workers on the team, so it's not surprising at all. I can honestly see him doing this the rest of the year.
"He's showing no signs of slowing down. That would be awesome for him and the team to keep doing what he's doing."
Sox, Cubs expect intensity despite different feel
CHICAGO -- With the White Sox sitting at .500 and the Cubs checking in at 11 games under entering Monday's series opener, the crosstown baseball rivalry doesn't seem to have quite the same impact as previous years.
Even with that slight loss of steam, the two games at U.S. Cellular Field and two ensuing games at Wrigley Field remain different than almost any other contest because of the city's baseball dynamic.
"Obviously some of the drama has been taken out of it, but it's still got to be pretty special for White Sox fans and Cubs fans," White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn said. "This is one of the biggest cities in the United States, and you don't find a Cubs fan and White Sox fan.
"It's one or the other, not both. It's still fun for us. And you throw out the records and all that stuff. We all know these four games are going to be tough."
Part of the rivalry change could fall in the weekday timing of the series, according to White Sox captain Paul Konerko, who has 20 homers and 53 RBIs over 242 career at-bats against the Cubs.
"I still say playing these games midweek in May just doesn't seem right, never does," Konerko said. "Of course we'll go out and play them, but it's a summer, June, July-type thing.
"But they're all good. No matter what the teams come in at, whether it's first, last, in the middle, both teams doing well, both teams doing bad, whatever scenario you can come up with, they've always been good series and games. The numbers show that by the wins and losses and how the scores are. Both teams leave the series better usually."
Santiago reaches out to Oklahoma tornado victim
CHICAGO -- White Sox pitcher Hector Santiago has provided assistance for one of the tornado victims in Oklahoma, after his agent, Brian McCafferty, got in touch with a local church who made him aware of a family that lost everything in the tornado. The daughter in this family was going to postpone her arrival at college, but Santiago sent the family money to purchase college supplies so the daughter could start on time.
It's the hope of Santiago and his agent that Target, which they reached out to, will match the financial donation to the family.
"I'm always trying to do something to be able to give back," Santiago said. "Whatever it is, something small, anything little can help out. I'm always here to help out and make somebody's day a little bit better."
Santiago talked to the girl on Monday and said she was very happy and appreciative for him reaching out.
"We just kind of went out, and I was like, 'Hey, even if it's one family or two families, kids, anything,'" Santiago said. "We called, and the church was just like, 'Hey, this family lost everything, cars, clothes, all the stuff for her.'
"They kind of picked it. It was like, 'Hey, this is the best one right now that you can help out and make an impact right away.'"
White Sox feature pregame honors for Memorial Day
CHICAGO -- Two days of pregame honors for Memorial Day at U.S. Cellular Field concluded Monday with a National Moment of Remembrance, which included a video, before Jose Quintana's first pitch against the Cubs. Both teams wore camouflage uniforms and caps, along with the rest of Major League Baseball.
Challenger, the Bald Eagle, flew across the pitcher's mound during the national anthem, and there was a ceremonial first pitch by five members of the United States armed forces. They are Technical Sergeant Joseph Rivera of the United States Air Force; WO1 Gordon Goodwin of the United States Army; Taylor Bragalone of the United States Coast Guard; Petty Officer Adam Gladding of the United States Navy and Staff Sgt. Clayton Walker of the United States Marine Corps.
Flowers back in lineup after dealing with back spasms
CHICAGO -- Tyler Flowers returned to the White Sox lineup Monday after missing the Marlins series due to back spasms. The problem wasn't as bad as the back spasms he dealt with during Spring Training, according to Flowers.
"Nothing in particular happened again. I just kind of woke up with it, and I had a hard time moving a few days ago," Flowers said. "If anyone has a secret, let me know. I don't know what's causing it or what it is.
"I'm just continuing to do the same things I've done. I do a number of back exercises and stuff, and with this episode in spring, I'm just trying to avoid it."
Flowers felt considerably better on Sunday and said that swinging causes him to feel the back pain the most.
Third to first
• Edwin Jackson, who starts for the Cubs on Tuesday, and outfielder Ryan Sweeney are the only players in the series to play for both teams. Jackson (2010-11) and Sweeney (2006-07) both spent parts of two seasons with the White Sox. Bench coach Mark Parent was on the Cubs from 1994-95.
• Gordon Beckham's Minor League rehab assignment remains on target to resume Wednesday with Triple-A Charlotte, after he was shut down due to discomfort in his left wrist.
• Thirty-nine of the 48 White Sox games in 2013 have been decided by three runs or fewer. The White Sox are 10-9 in one-run games, 6-5 in two-run games and 6-3 in three-run games.