Twins hitters have responded to Brunansky's demands

The offense has taken a big step up after an awful 2013.

hide

Tom Brunansky — right, sharing a laugh with fellow coach and former Twins player Terry Steinbach on April 13 — gathered hitters in spring training to tell them he had greater expectations out of them this season.

Photo: File by Marlin Levison • mlevison@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins’ scheduled Sunday game against the Tigers was postponed by rain at around 10:30 a.m., but the line for the Target Field batting cage — and a session with hitting coach Tom Brunansky — was not exhausted for at least another hour.

Aaron Hicks, Josmil Pinto and Brian Dozier were among the players who took their turns in the cage with Brunansky, the former Twins star right fielder in his second season as hitting coach. In 2013, the Twins had the second-most strikeouts in baseball, were the second-worst team in the majors at hitting with runners in scoring position and ranked 25th in runs scored.

Through the first four weeks of this season, though, the Twins offense looks much more capable.

And that has come from demanding more out of Twins hitters. More preparation, more attention to detail. The Twins entered Sunday fourth in the majors in runs scored, first in walks and 11th in batting average with runners in scoring position.

“The thing about last year was that it was a strikeout-fest,” said Brunansky, repeating a reporter’s description. “We were overmatched, and they weren’t competing. We’re striking out some now, but you see guys go up with an idea and a game plan and they go up and they are competing pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat. And that was part of something that we stressed in spring training.”

Fewer at-bats have been given away, and the Twins have amassed a good number of clutch hits up and down the lineup. And players no longer looked overmatched.

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe hit .254 last season with 14 homers and 52 RBI. He is batting .310 this season with 17 RBI and is holding down the No. 3 spot in the batting order. Adjusting his stance to drive the ball to the opposite field more has helped.

Chris Colabello was not ready for prime time last season, batting .194 in his first 55 major league games. This year, he is standing closer to the plate and hitting the ball to all fields after being mostly an opposite-field hitter last season. His 27 RBI already are a club record for April.

Josmil Pinto is batting just .230 but has walked 17 times and has hit five home runs — not bad for the rookie.

Brian Dozier is batting just .217 but has seven homers, six stolen bases and a team-high 19 walks. The Twins have four players in the top 11 in walks in the American League.

“The biggest thing right now is, every single person, whatever they are supposed to be doing, whatever their primary role is, they are doing,” Dozier said.

In spring training, Brunansky had all the hitters sit down in the batting cage at Hammond Stadium while he addressed them. In what was straightforward and, at times, fiery, Brunansky told the group that the bar was being raised. They were expected to put in the effort to be prepared, from working on their swing to knowing what the scouting report on the opposing pitcher was. And he often hears players repeating things that were said in that meeting.

“That meeting was big for us,” Plouffe said. “Not giving away at-bats and sticking with our approach and routine. In this game you’ve got to have a short memory. It’s hard to do that when you are young. It’s hard to forget about a bad day and you want to change something and have a quick solution. But the more at-bats we get under our belts, it’s clearer that you have to maintain what you are doing.”

The Twins offense is not fixed. Aaron Hicks is batting .188, and Brunansky is working with him to cut down on the furious hacks he takes. Dozier has pop but needs to raise his average. Joe Mauer is batting an un-Mauer-like .266 with 26 strikeouts and is working with Brunansky on some minor adjustments.

The offense was supposed to be a work in progress this season, but so far it has been much more than that. What’s scary is that it could be much better if a few more hitters turn the corner.

“Rather than Bruno standing on deck and telling them, ‘He’s going to start you with a slider,’ we want our hitters to know that,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They are studying themselves. He gives them the information and they are taking it and reading it and they know what [the pitcher] is going to do.

“I think Bruno has made them become accountable for their own actions, rather than baby-sit them, and it is working out.”



 

  • related content

  • Reusse: Twins should have kept Torii Hunter

    Monday April 28, 2014

    The team let its popular outfielder depart in 2007, a decision that continues to have repercussions today.

  • Rain arrives at Target Field, and it might stay a while

    Monday April 28, 2014

    Steady rain, chilly temperatures and a biting wind led to the postponement of Sunday’s Twins-Tigers game at Target Field. It...

  • Twins statistics

    Monday August 4, 2014

  • Chris Colabello put up big minor league numbers in 2013, but it didn’t carry over into the majors. His adjustments this year have paid off.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 4
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 5 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 6
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 2
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 8 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 12
Boston - WP: C. Buchholz 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 0
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Veras 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 6 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 9
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 15
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 7 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 1
Washington - LP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: C. Anderson 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 1
Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Red Bull New York 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Chivas USA 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Phoenix 77 FINAL
Minnesota 82

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close