One factor in the recent success of the Twins, who have went from a deep slump to winning three series in row, is the improved hitting of Ben Revere, who has become the regular right fielder.
The 2007 first-round pick played sparingly at the start of the season, appearing in just six games from April 6 to 27, hitting .278 in 18 at-bats with no RBI and three runs scored before being sent down to Class AAA Rochester.
But since Revere was recalled on May 17th and inserted into the lineup regularly, he seems to have found his batting stroke. In 70 at-bats, mostly as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, he is hitting .314 with four doubles, two triples, 12 runs scored and three RBI.
Revere gives a lot of credit for his improvement to the work that hitting coach Tom Brunansky did with him at Rochester.
"Oh yeah, he is a great coach, especially in hitting, all over -- hitting, fielding, everything," Revere said. "Him and [Gene] Glynn, my manager, he kind of helped with my bunting game. I think that kind of helped me get my base hits going.
"[Now] the infielders don't know if I'm going to swing or bunt. So it's just having them on the tip of their toes, they back up and I can shoot one past them or drop a bunt right in front of them for a base hit. It was something good that these two guys have really been helping my game out."
Revere is hitting .307 this season, well ahead of his .267 average in 450 at-bats last year.
What's also been impressive is the way that Revere has managed to hit with a bit more power. In just 88 at-bats this year, he has five doubles (he had nine all last season) and two triples (five in 2011), which has brought his slugging percentage to .409 -- higher than the .407 league average after Wednesday's games.
Coming into this season, Revere had posted a .301 slugging percentage in the majors, well below his .404 career percentage in the minor leagues.
Why is Revere doing a lot better than when he was previously recalled from Rochester?
"I was up here before and I wasn't playing that many games and stuff so I was trying to get in the flow of everything," he said.
"I saw when I came back up to Minnesota the second time, I watched film, and I saw my hand was behind my head, and every time I triggered, I'd be laying on a fastball right down the middle because I was wrapping myself around too much.
''I told [coaches] that and now I have my hands out and everything went uphill from there. It was just the relocation of my hands, that was it."
Revere comes from an athletic family. His dad, John, is the running backs coach at Eastern Kentucky University.
The Twins drew criticism when they drafted Revere because of his size (5-foot-9) and the fact that he lacks a strong throwing arm, nothing compared to former Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who had a rifle for an arm.
You might notice that the Twins infielders take a good run toward Revere when a ball is hit to right.
However, both Twins General Manager Terry Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhire say they are going to keep Revere in right despite that weakness. One reason for not making a change is that Josh Willingham is very comfortable in left field.
"The level is a lot greater in left and I've played there my whole career," Willingham said. "I've played a very limited amount of time in right field. I'm not saying that I couldn't do it or wouldn't be willing to do it, it's just as far as being comfortable, you know, left field is definitely a lot more comfortable for me."
Royce White, who had a great season after transferring from Minnesota to Iowa State and then entered the draft, was invited to the NBA's predraft combine. It started Thursday in Chicago and featured the top 60 draft prospects. Also invited was former Benilde-St. Margaret's and Wisconsin standout Jordan Taylor.
White will be drafted in the first round, according to what I hear from people in the know.
Sports Illustrated ran a story on White's battle with anxiety disorder in getting ready for the NBA draft. White was quoted as saying that the workouts have been a challenge: "I'm nervous, very nervous doing all of this. Just going through the process takes a lot of courage because this is something you've been working for all your life and it's something you really want to do well at."
• The Twins might have their most attractive interleague stretch coming up, playing the Cubs, Phillies and the Brewers in succession, but there still are tickets available for all games. ... Cole De Vries had to be shocked after pitching well and then being sent down to Rochester. But maybe it will just be temporary because the Twins don't need a fifth starter until June 16 because of two off days. De Vries must remain on the Twins 40-man roster or he will become a six-year free agent after this year.
• With only four seniors graduating, Gophers baseball coach John Anderson expects to have one of his best teams next season and says "we are not ducking anybody" as he is playing a great schedule. Texas, a perennial NCAA winner, will be at the Metrodome on March 22-24 after the Gophers open the season at UCLA on Feb. 15-17, and then play the Bruins back here next year. The competing teams in the annual Dairy Queen tournament will be Utah, Dartmouth, and Santa Clara on March 1-3.
• Forget about the Wild having any chance of signing Devils superstar Zach Parise. Close friends say he will sign with the Rangers or the Red Wings, teams that not only can pay the freight, but also have a chance to win -- unlike the Wild.
• Four players who at one time started for the Vikings last season and played a lot still are looking for a team after becoming free agents:guard Anthony Herrera, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, linebacker E.J. Henderson and receiver Bernard Berrian. Look for Henderson to re-sign with the Vikings if another team doesn't meet his price.
• Former Vikings linebacker and Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio is the defensive coordinator for the Broncos.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org