CINCINNATI -- Because of tampering rules and the desire to keep thoughts close to the vest, Major League general managers are often reluctant to discuss other teams' players in any way, shape or form. Yet Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi broke from the current etiquette in a huge way. Ricciardi publicly ripped Reds left fielder Adam Dunn on Wednesday night, saying, among other things, that he wouldn't want him on his team and that he lacked passion for baseball. During Ricciardi's Toronto radio show, a frustrated caller asked the GM about acquiring Dunn. Instead of saying only that he had no interest, Ricciardi went several steps further.
"Let me ask you something. What do you know about Adam Dunn?" Ricciardi said to the caller. "He's a lifetime .230, .240 hitter that strikes out a ton and hits home runs. "Do you know that the guy really doesn't like baseball all that much?" Ricciardi continued. "Do you know the guy doesn't have a passion to play the game that much? How much do you know about the player? There's a reason why you're attracted to some players and there's a reason why you're not attracted to some players. I don't think you'd be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here." The Blue Jays, mired in last place in the American League East, had just finished losing their fourth straight game and Ricciardi sounded defensive with the caller as he took shots at Dunn. The reasons behind the comments didn't matter much to Dunn, who read a transcript of what Ricciardi said. The 28-year-old Dunn was expectedly displeased on Thursday morning. "I know nothing about this clown. I have no idea who he is," Dunn said. "I don't really care what one guy thinks, to be honest with you. If I'm a GM, I don't know if I would go out of my way to kind of discredit a player." After talking for a few more minutes, Dunn showed he really did care about Ricciardi's comments. "It [ticks] me off, to be honest with you," Dunn said. "He doesn't even know me. If he knew me, fine, say what you want. This guy doesn't know anything about me, other than what he sees on whatever 'SportsCenter' they have up there. That's it." The timing of Ricciardi's comments was especially bizarre. After this weekend's three-game series with the Yankees in New York, the Reds will play three games at Toronto next week. Dunn might have a little more incentive to beat the Blue Jays, but he said he wouldn't take his displeasure with Ricciardi out on them. "The players didn't say anything," said Dunn, a lifetime .247 hitter. "It was some clown sitting in the front office pushing paper." Reds manager Dusty Baker read and listened to Riccardi's comments and expressed surprise. "It serves no purpose. That's not like J.P., either," Baker said. "I don't understand the cause or the need for that dialogue." Baker was asked if Ricciardi's comments had any validity. "I ain't in that" Baker said. "All I know is that, if I'm Adam Dunn, they'd have a hard time getting me out, no lie." Entering Thursday afternoon's game, Dunn was batting .227 with a team-leading 18 home runs and 43 RBIs. While he has struck out 71 times, his 60 walks led the Majors. In Cincinnati, Dunn has often drawn criticism for his laid-back demeanor and lack of defensive prowess. However, his career numbers and games played aren't generally indicative of someone who doesn't like baseball or lacks passion for the game. Dunn played in 160 or more games from 2004-06 and 152 games last season. He's hit 40 or more homers and drawn 100 or more walks the past four seasons. He's scored 100 runs and driven in at least 100 RBIs in three of the past four seasons. "He's kind of what you see on the other side of the field. He's a gentle giant," said Baker, who previously managed against Dunn with the Giants and Cubs. "Personally, I'd like to see him mad." In the option year of his contract that pays him $13 million this season, Dunn can be a free agent after this season. It's already made him the subject of trade rumors. Don't expect any Dunn-to-the-Blue Jays rumors to surface now. "If anything happens, I ain't going to Toronto," Dunn said. "I can eliminate one team. I'm not converting my dollars to loonies and toonies just yet."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.