Souhan: Morneau searching for the elusive home run swing

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 12, 2013 - 4:57 PM

He’s asked his hitting coach, and the best home-run hitter on the team. “Anyone who will listen, basically,’’ he said.

He’s tried taking extra batting practice, hitting off a tee from home plate, swinging with one hand, concentrating on putting backspin on the ball so it will soar through the air the way it once did, not so long ago, when he was on his way to becoming the second-best home run hitter in Twins history. “I’ve tried all the tricks in my bag,’’ he said.

Justin Morneau keeps searching for the sweet spot and getting tart results. He has gone 168 plate appearances since his last home run, on April 28. Has has two home runs this season. “I’ve never been through anything like this,’’ he said.

Games like Tuesday’s dull the pain. Morneau went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. With two out in the eighth, he fouled off four pitches from Phillies lefty Antonio Bastardo before lining a game-winning single up the middle. He leads the team in RBI and is second in batting average.

He is fulfilling many of his responsibilities, but while fans long begged Joe Mauer to turn into Morneau at the plate, Morneau has become more like Mauer. “I’ve been searching for the answer for a while,’’ he said.

Morneau’s next home run will tie him with Kirby Puckett for fifth on the team’s all-time home-run list, but he expected to pass that milestone in April, not pursue it deep into June. “I’d obviously like to hit more home runs,’’ he said. “That gives us a better chance to win. That means driving in more runs. That’s what I want to do.’’

Before John McDonald’s knee hit Morneau’s head on July 7, 2010, Morneau was having his best season, hitting .345 with 18 homers, a .437 on-base percentage and a .618 slugging percentage. His OPS (on-base plus slugging) was 1.055. Last year, Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown and the AL MVP award with an OPS of .999.

Kent Hrbek ranks second in team history with 293 home runs, amassed in 14 seasons. Morneau hit 181 in his first 7 ½ seasons, including his first two, in which he bounced between the majors and minors. He has hit 25 since. At 32, with his contract expiring this year, his future will be determined by his ability to recapture the swing of his youth.

“We have discussions about this,’’ he said, quietly, before Tuesday’s game. “Getting on base puts pressure on the other team and helps you score runs, but as much as it’s my job to get on base, it’s also my job to drive in the guys who are on base. I feel like I’ve been having good at-bats with runners in scoring position. It’s just the results of the home runs are something I’d like to see.

“I’ve been trying to do everything I’ve done in the past when I lose that home run swing to try and find it. It feels good. I’m just not getting the results I want. They’re in there somewhere.’’

Aaron Hicks has more homers from each side of the plate than Morneau does overall. Morneau trails Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Mauer, Chris Parmelee and the injured Trevor Plouffe in the category that defines his position and role.

If you believe in happy endings, you can hope that Morneau’s homerless streak could make him affordable and willing to re-sign with the Twins. For now, he seeks out hitting coach Tom Brunansky, and teammate Josh Willingham, and anyone else who might see a hitch keeping him from reaching the seats.

“I feel like, especially in the last week, I’ve been on pitches I feel I should be hitting over the fence, and missing them by a quarter of an inch, and they’re pop-ups,’’ he said. “Sometimes you can’t figure it out, and the more you try, the more you go in the other direction.

“I have to believe that if I keep squaring the ball up and hitting it hard that eventually they’re going to turn into homers. I have to believe that.’’

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Souhan blog: Walters, Morneau overcome Twins' mistakes

    Tuesday June 11, 2013

    Twins beat Phillies, 3-2

  • Justin Morneau drove in the game-winning run, scoring Jamey Carroll with an eighth-inning single Tuesday in a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia.

  • Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau

  • Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, right

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close