Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Target Field powering up in Year 2

A new video board sits above the right field seats at Target Field, so fans in left field no longer will have to wrench their necks and backs while watching replays on the main scoreboard in left field.

But while they glance at the new addition to the still somewhat new park, they shouldn't expect to see a lot of home run replays -- the result of a team lowering its expectations in their pitcher-friendly park.

The Twins were 53-28 in Target Field last season -- the most home victories in the American League. While the club added a few things to the stadium for 2011, the fences weren't moved in to help the Twins hit more homers.

As a team, the Twins hit 142 homers last season -- but only 52 came at their shiny, new ballpark. First baseman Justin Morneau, in half a season before a concussion ended his campaign, hit 18 homers, four at home. Catcher Joe Mauer, coming off a career-high 28 homers in 2009, hit nine all of last year, including four at home.

Consequently, the players expressed concern over the dimensions. Behind the scenes, there was a request to move the fences in, which was turned down.

The club did acquiesce to concerns about the hitting background, leading to the removal of the 14 black spruce trees in center field and a new hitting background behind the fence.

Any other changes will be up to Twins hitters going into the second season at Target Field, which begins Friday when they play Oakland. A standing-room-only crowd of nearly 41,000 -- the record is 40,966 -- will squeeze into the park and see the latest enhancements for the first time.

What they might not see is enhanced power because the Twins now know what it's like to hit in Target Field.

"We probably just have to do better in situational hitting," Morneau said. "Instead of a three-run homer, we might end up with a double with runners on second and third. And you might have to move runners over more. It means we have to be better at that stuff."

Balls didn't carry from the start

Michael Cuddyer and other Twins said the problems started before the first pitch was thrown. The signals they picked up suggested that the ball would carry well at Target Field and would be conducive to home run hitting.

The Twins promotions department piled on, airing a commercial before Opening Day that had Mauer and Morneau bashing baseballs onto 1st Avenue.

"We expected to have such a greater hitter's park than the Metrodome,'' Cuddyer said.

Once the games began, the Twins were jolted into reality.

"It happened right away,'' Jason Kubel said. "I hit some good balls to left field, balls we all thought were going to get out before the season started, and it didn't work out.''

According to ESPN, Target Field ranked 30th last season in park factors, which compares the rate home runs are hit from park to park.

"You hear the ball is going to carry more than the Dome, that it is going to be a hitter's park,'' Cuddyer said. "[Target Field] was a good hitter's park. We scored a lot of runs in there. It just wasn't conducive to home runs."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he had to address his team's approach to hitting in the ballpark during the season when he heard complaints that the ball didn't carry the way they thought it would. Just hit the ball hard, he told them, and see what happens.

Does Gardenhire expect more of the same in Year 2?

"I honestly hope it stays the same because we won [53] games there,'' he said. "And I kinda like winning [53] games at home.''

'The agony of success'

Target Field drew nationwide accolades during its debut season in 2010. But the club tinkered with some of its features during the offseason.

In addition to the scoreboard, there's a Twins Tower in right field, more heaters and a new burrito on the menu.

"The agony of success,'' said Kevin Smith, Twins executive director of public affairs.

On the field, there was more speed in the lineup with Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who went down Thursday because of a fractured left fibula. But players such as Kubel have tinkered with their swings to adapt.

Kubel hit .300 with 28 homers and drove in 103 runs in the final season of the Dome. He struggled more than most Twins at Target Field, getting into bad habits that led his numbers to drop to .249-21-92.

"Hit it harder or pull it,'' Kubel said of the approach that got him in trouble.

Kubel was a .320 hitter in the minors, including a .343 average in 90 games at Class AA New Britain in 2004. So he changed his swing to the one he used to hit for a high average in the minors.

"This spring I hit a lot of line drives; it's pretty much all I worked on,'' said Kubel, who has started the season 7-for-21. "Pretty much what I used to be was a line drive hitter, gap to gap. I'm hoping to get back to that this year, and this park plays perfect for that.''

The Mets' David Wright hit just 10 home runs in 2009, five in the first year at Citi Field. He bounced back with 29 homers last year, 12 at home, and said he simply had to adapt to the ballpark.

"It's a big ballpark, a pitcher's ballpark, so you have to hit the ball in the gaps, go to all fields,'' he said during last season.

So it's possible for players to adjust to the park they spend 81 games in.

"We had high expectations for last year and it didn't work out that way,'' Kubel said. "So we know what to expect and have a different game plan.

"We played pretty well there last year, and hopefully we can improve on that."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Cleveland «0310300007100
Minnesota0110000103100
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:T.House(4-3) L:T.May(3-5) S:M.Rzepczynski (1)
HR: CLE- Y.Gomes (20) MIN- B.Dozier (21)

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close