Morneau looking to heat up

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 7, 2012 - 12:27 AM
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Justin Morneau’s two-run single during the fifth inning Wednesday gave the Twins a 3-2 lead over the Royals that turned into a 4-2 victory.

Photo: Orlin Wagner , Associated Press

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KANSAS CITY, MO. - Justin Morneau is hitting for power again this season. Now he's looking for more consistency.

Morneau has 10 home runs and 10 doubles in 40 games. Those extra-base hits have given him a .500 slugging percentage -- one point above his .499 career slugging percentage -- even though his batting average is a mere .237.

"I've been able to contribute that way at least, hit some balls over the fence that have helped us win some ballgames," he said Wednesday. "If I wasn't doing that, I'd probably be even more frustrated than I've ever been."

After saying that, Morneau went 2-for-3 and delivered the go-ahead, two-run single as the Twins defeated the Royals 4-2.

Before suffering his concussion in July 2010, Morneau was a candidate for a second MVP award, batting .345 with a .437 on-base percentage and a .618 slugging percentage. It's not just his batting average that's suffered this year. His OBP entering Wednesday was .297.

"I just don't feel like my approach has been very good," he said. "I've been chasing a lot of pitches. As soon as they see that, they keep doing it until you force them to throw strikes, and I haven't really forced them to throw strikes."

Morneau missed 14 games when he was on the disabled list because of a sore left wrist, but he said it feels fine now. He's played in 19 consecutive games since coming off the DL, including 17 at first base.

"I'm starting to get comfortable at first," Morneau said. "I feel good running out there every day. Being able to do that is nice, but I don't know -- we're still in last place, and I'm not hitting the way I expect myself to hit, so I wouldn't call it successful. I'm not just content being out there every day. I want to do well. I want to help this team win."

Span gets a rest

Manager Ron Gardenhire sat Denard Span on Wednesday, knowing that would give him a two-day break heading into the weekend. Span has started 51 of the team's 55 games in center field.

"He deserves it," Gardenhire said. "He's got a lot of at-bats. This gives me a chance to get [Darin Mastroianni] in there a couple days in a row, and get Ben [Revere] out in center field, which he needs to do every once in a while, too."

Mauer update

Joe Mauer caught Scott Diamond's bullpen session Wednesday but didn't swing a bat because of continued soreness in his sprained right thumb. Mauer is hoping he makes more progress by Friday, when the team returns from a day off to face the Cubs.

Mauer injured the thumb on a swing last Sunday in Cleveland. The Twins don't think Mauer will need to go on the disabled list.

Burnett puts spring troubles behind

After spending most of 2010 and 2011 in the majors, Alex Burnett left the Twins with a tough decision during spring training when he posted a 6.97 ERA.

But once the regular season started, Burnett quickly found his form, and he entered Wednesday with a 2.45 ERA.

"It was just a bad spring," Burnett said. "I wasn't exactly walking people. I was just giving up a ton of hits."

Burnett said his ability to command his fastball and off-speed pitches has been the key to his turnaround.

"I'm getting a lot more confident in all my pitches," he said. "I'm going after guys and not being too timid."

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