Dunn reflects before possible final game with Nationals

NEW YORK | Adam Dunn is back in the Nationals’ lineup today, playing his 158th and final game of the season for the Nationals. It could also be the last game Dunn plays for the Nationals at all; the first baseman, of course, is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. But unlike his final home game in Washington last week, for which Dunn admitted he got a little sentimental, he isn’t worked up before today’s game with the Mets.

“I feel nothing,” Dunn said. “I’m looking at it like this is the last game of the season, just like I treat every one.”

Five days after the season ends, Dunn could become a free agent. His preference is to stay with the Nationals, and his agent, Greg Genske, has talked with the team all season about a contract extension. Those talks, though, have not yielded any fruit as of yet, and Dunn’s time with the Nationals could be done when today’s game is over.

“I’m not going to play the scenario, hypothetical game,” Dunn said, “because it’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to anyone. I’m not going to play that game.”

The first baseman’s season is ending about where it always does. He’s got 38 homers this season, the same number he had last year, and he’s two strikeouts away from 200. Dunn’s other numbers (103 RBI, a .260 average and an .895 OPS) all fall within the microscopic range of his career performance. There are few players in baseball whose production stays as consistent, year-to-year, as Dunn’s, and he’s done it while playing through a nagging hamstring injury the last month of the season.

“There’s some good things in there, and there’s a lot of bad stuff,” Dunn said. “You’ve got to take the good with the bad, I guess. I haven’t really sat down and assessed everything, but I feel like this year, I could have been a lot more productive.”

Dunn, who will be 31 in November, is also feeling the itch to play for a winner. He’s never played a full season for a team with a winning record, and like manager Jim Riggleman, he said the Nationals should be ending the year with more wins than it has.

“I think it’s a very disappointing season,” Dunn said. “(The talent) is here. But for some reason, it’s not coming out on a consistent day-to-day basis, and I don’t know why that is. ... I think there’s obviously some things that we need to get us up to the Phillies, the Braves, those guys. But as far as the nucleus of the team, I think it’s fine. I think anyone would love to have that. But I obviously think there are some things that need to be addressed, and I think they’ll do that.”

Whether Dunn is part of, or a beneficiary of, those changes remains to be seen.