Hartman: At plate and at third, Plouffe proves worth

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 15, 2012 - 12:51 AM

After a rough start, the hot-hitting Twins infielder is ably filling the void left by Danny Valencia's departure.

The Twins thought they had found their third baseman of the future in Danny Valencia in 2010 when he came up to the major leagues and hit .311 in 85 games with seven home runs, 18 doubles, 40 RBI and 30 runs scored.

But in 2011, Valencia's batting average dropped to .246 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI. He also had 18 errors and there were questions about his ability to adequately handle third base defensively. Those 18 errors were second in the American League, trailing only Mark Reynolds of the Baltimore Orioles.

No one seems to have the answer for what happened to the promising former University of Miami star. He hit rock-bottom and was sent down to Class AAA Rochester after hitting .190 in 27 games for the Twins this season, including a nasty 0-for-25 streak over the month of May.

When Valencia was sent down, neither Trevor Plouffe nor manager Ron Gardenhire had any idea that Plouffe would replace Valencia at third base. Around that time, Plouffe said: "I think Danny just went down to get some swings and get some confidence back. Danny is a heck of a player and a heck of a third baseman. I am a guy that's going to move around and play all over the place. Danny will be back up here shortly and he'll be doing his thing."

But it looks as if that is not going to happen, as Plouffe is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, and Valencia continues to struggle in Rochester, hitting .231 through 30 games.

Plouffe hit only .238 in 81 games last year playing five positions -- although not a single game at third base -- and he was struggling this year with a .231 average on May 10. But taking over third base seems to have elevated his hitting drastically.

Before Thursday's game against the Phillies, Plouffe was hitting .274 since May 10th, with 10 home runs, six doubles, 19 RBI and 17 runs scored. He has posted a .653 slugging percentage and .963 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) -- to give you an idea of how hot Plouffe has been, a .963 OPS would currently rank sixth overall in the American League.

What has been even more impressive though, is that for the month of June, Plouffe is hitting .400 with six home runs, four doubles, 13 RBI and 11 runs scored in 40 at-bats, posting a tremendous .950 slugging percentage and 1.379 OPS. He added another home run Thursday night.

Plouffe credits Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra for his improved hitting.

"With Joe, we've been working a lot, man," Plouffe said. "We've been working a lot. He knows what he's talking about, and we just stick to the routine and the results will come, you just have to keep putting your work in."

Before taking over the third base job, Plouffe always had two gloves available.

"I have an outfielder's glove and an infielder's glove [in my locker]," he said. "My infielder's glove is one that I can take to all three different positions and if I have to get over to first base there's a couple of guys here that I'll borrow their glove."

But if Plouffe keeps on hitting like he has, he will need only one glove.

Complicated situation

When University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler was asked how the bid for excavating the new Siebert Field on campus was awarded, he answered: "It was very complicated," and refused to elaborate.

Well, at least one feature the new baseball complex won't have is a covered batting cage. And there may be other features that will be missing because Kaler and Kathleen O'Brien, retiring vice president of university services, said they couldn't accept the excavating bid of Ames Construction for $900,000 even though Dick Ames, a longtime U benefactor, was willing to give the school the money back after the work was completed.

Ames and his brother, Butch, were willing to pay back the $900,000 provided the university paid them for the job in installments over three years as it was being done and then it would be returned as a charitable contribution.

However, because Ballinger Company submitted a lower bid of $790,000 for the work, the U couldn't accept the deal.

Outgoing athletic director Joel Maturi said he went to Kaler on behalf of Ames, but was told it would violate the law by not awarding the job to the lowest bidder, even though the U effectively would get the work done free.

Jottings

• The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings have some Minnesota connections: Tim Leiweke, former Timberwolves vice president of marketing, is president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings; Dean Lombardi, president and general manager of the team, was an assistant manager to Jack Ferreira with the Minnesota North Stars from 1988-1990.

• Gophers defensive end Ra'Shede Hageman, who was arrested while breaking up a fight at a campus bar, had the charges dropped by Judge Jamie L. Anderson, according to U officials. On May 10th, Hageman had been cited for a misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

• The reason the Twins' top draft pick, Byron Buxton, received a $6 million signing bonus and Houston's top choice, Carlos Correa, got $4.8 million was that the Astros probably made a pre-draft deal with Correa guaranteeing him they would draft him No. 1, according to the Twins.

• Former Twins shortstop Tsuysoshi Nishioka still is struggling with the bat, hitting only .214 for Class AAA Rochester.

• Gophers basketball player Mo Walker, who missed action last season because of an ankle problem, recently had surgery and is expected to make a good recovery.

• The University of Minnesota was scheduled to be the host of the Big Ten outdoor track meet this year, but because the Gophers track stadium needs a lot of work, the Gophers will be host of the 2015 meet instead.

• Mario Chalmers is averaging 11.6 points, 4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in the postseason for the Heat. The Timberwolves originally selected Chalmers 34th overall in the 2008 NBA draft but traded his rights to the Heat for two 2009 second-round picks, which the Wolves used to select Nick Calathes from Greece and Henk Norel from the Netherlands, who have not played for the Wolves yet.

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. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Phoenix 6:00 PM
Indiana
Miami 6:00 PM
Orlando
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
New York
Toronto 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Sacramento 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Washington 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
New Orleans 8:00 PM
Utah
St. Louis 3 2nd Prd 4:39
Ottawa 2
Montreal 6:00 PM
Boston
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Columbus 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Washington
Florida 7:00 PM
Nashville
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Dallas
Carolina 8:00 PM
Colorado
New Jersey 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Arizona 9:30 PM
San Jose
Incarnate Word 79 FINAL
Princeton 68
Robert Morris 66 FINAL
Georgetown 80
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
Massachusetts 68
Saint Peters 50 FINAL
La Salle 59
Ball State 69 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Utah State 63 FINAL
Miss State 71
High Point 56 FINAL
Richmond 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 63
Drake 75 FINAL
Western Mich 91
Samford 72 FINAL
CS-Northridge 79
Colgate 53 FINAL
Campbell 48
North Carolina 90 FINAL
Davidson 72
North Florida 49 FINAL
Northern Iowa 66
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
NJIT 61
Nebraska Omaha 92 2nd Half 0:37
Marquette 85
Clemson 59 FINAL
Nevada 50
Florida State 54 FINAL
Providence 80
South Alabama 31 2nd Half 12:10
Detroit 50
Texas State 57 2nd Half 10:57
TX-San Antonio 56
Trinity Christian 29 2nd Half 16:41
Chicago State 51
Liberty 22 1st Half 2:52
Miami-Ohio 20
Western State 19 1st Half 7:25
Air Force 30
Elon 19 1st Half 7:28
Northwestern 19
Canisius 22 1st Half 5:31
St Bonaventure 17
MD-Eastern Shore 17 1st Half 4:44
St Francis-PA 26
Cleveland State 22 1st Half 9:17
Savannah State 18
SE Missouri St 25 1st Half 6:34
Central Arkansas 16
UMKC 3:30 PM
Ark-Little Rock
Southern U 0 1st Half 20:00
Middle Tennessee 0
Longwood 3:30 PM
Youngstown St
Towson 4:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Butler
San Jose St 4:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Texas Southern 4:00 PM
Norfolk State
Yale 4:00 PM
Southern Ill
LSU 4:00 PM
Weber State
South Dakota 4:00 PM
Wofford
Duquesne 4:00 PM
Abilene Christian
Wright State 4:30 PM
Char Southern
Miles 4:30 PM
Jacksonville St
Binghamton 4:30 PM
Manhattan
Alcorn State 4:30 PM
Kennesaw St
Bob Jones Univ 5:00 PM
Citadel
Piedmont Coll 5:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Johnson University 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Brown 5:00 PM
Indiana State
Colorado 5:00 PM
Wyoming
Quinnipiac 6:00 PM
Albany
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Master's College 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Clermont College 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky
UNC Greensboro 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Sam Houston St 6:00 PM
Fairfield
American Univ 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Army 6:00 PM
Marist
Hartford 6:00 PM
Niagara
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Penn
Nebraska 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Vermont 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Eastern Wash 6:00 PM
SMU
UNLV 6:00 PM
Temple
Chattanooga 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Va Military
Ohio Midwestern 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
UC Davis 6:30 PM
Furman
Ill-Chicago 6:30 PM
Kent State
Transylvania 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Central Conn St 6:30 PM
Monmouth
Oakwood 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Morgan State 7:00 PM
Houston
Lamar 7:00 PM
Indiana
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Navy
William & Mary 7:00 PM
Rice
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX A&M-Kingsville 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Southern-New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulane
SE Louisiana 7:00 PM
Western Ill
Belmont 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Hampton 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
UMBC 7:30 PM
Minnesota
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
Texas-Arlington
St Thomas Aquinas 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Stanford 8:30 PM
Duke
Morehead State 8:30 PM
Presbyterian
SIU Edwardsville 9:00 PM
Portland
Boise State 9:00 PM
Wisconsin
Valparaiso 11/23/14 8:30 AM
Maine
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 13 FINAL
Rice 31
Air Force 14 FINAL
San Diego St 30
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Utah State 41
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(9) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
Minnesota 28 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(18) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 4th Qtr 8:02
(23) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL 0:00
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(14) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
SMU 7 FINAL
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 24 4th Qtr 1:45
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 4th Qtr 6:16
(22) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 16 3rd Qtr 1:10
Ball State 35
Appalachian St 21 4th Qtr 15:00
Louisiana 16
(15) Arizona 7 2nd Qtr 7:07
(20) Utah 0
FIU 7 2nd Qtr 9:26
North Texas 14
(8) Ole Miss 0 2nd Qtr 14:40
Arkansas 17
Louisville 14 2nd Qtr 11:13
Notre Dame 6
Maryland 3 2nd Qtr 10:22
Michigan 3
Texas Tech 14 2nd Qtr 11:00
Iowa State 7
(14) Wisconsin 9 2nd Qtr 5:38
Iowa 3
Syracuse 0 2nd Qtr 7:31
Pittsburgh 7
Boston College 10 2nd Qtr 5:29
(1) Florida State 10
Georgia State 0 2nd Qtr 8:24
Clemson 14
Tulane 0 2nd Qtr 11:34
East Carolina 10
Stanford 10 1st Qtr 6:26
California 0
Western Carolina 7 1st Qtr 4:08
(2) Alabama 10
ULM 3 1st Qtr 4:40
New Mexico St 0
So Florida 3 1st Qtr 4:29
Memphis 7
Colorado 3:30 PM
(3) Oregon
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 6:00 PM
Virginia
Vanderbilt 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 6:30 PM
Tennessee
Oklahoma State 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Connecticut
Boise State 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9:30 PM
Washington
Fresno State 9:30 PM
Nevada
UNLV 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
(21) Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(18) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(19) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(15) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(11) UCLA
(22) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
BYU 11/29/14 2:00 AM
California
(20) Utah 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Colorado
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Oregon State
Kentucky 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Louisville
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(24) USC
So Carolina 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Clemson
Florida 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(1) Florida State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(25) Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(17) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(8) Ole Miss
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(6) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(12) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
(16) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
TBA 11/30/14 5:00 PM
TBA
Grand Canyon 77 FINAL
Austin Peay 84
Bowling Green 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 50
St Bonaventure 68 FINAL
Detroit 56
Illinois-Chicago 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 69
Louisiana Tech 55 FINAL
Louisiana 58
MD-Eastern Shore 57 FINAL
Marshall 74
Butler 77 FINAL
Fairfield 81
Central Conn St 81 FINAL
UMass Lowell 58
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 60
St Marys-CA 57 FINAL
UC Davis 55
UNC-Asheville 53 FINAL
South Florida 97
Colgate 51 FINAL
Drexel 59
Niagara 64 FINAL
Buffalo 73
Vermont 61 FINAL
Boston U 66
Marist 51 FINAL
Northeastern 58
UNC-Wilmington 72 FINAL
Appalachian St 82
Duquesne 52 FINAL
Green Bay 84
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Liberty 76
Army 81 FINAL
Manhattan 49
Eastern Michigan 75 FINAL
TX-Pan American 81
Southern Ill 50 FINAL
Wright State 70
Youngstown St 70 FINAL
Radford 44
Stetson 62 FINAL
Indiana State 52
Rockhurst 56 2nd Half 4:32
UMKC 47
Ark-Little Rock 47 2nd Half 5:31
Rice 28
(23) Syracuse 66 2nd Half 7:59
Jacksonville 37
NC Central 31 2nd Half 10:10
Gardner-Webb 59
New Orleans 48 2nd Half 4:20
Jacksonville St 57
(22) Rutgers 44 2nd Half 10:19
LSU 41
Missouri State 30 2nd Half 6:11
(21) Oklahoma St 62
Eastern Washington 35 2nd Half 9:52
SMU 57
Houston Baptist 45 2nd Half 8:08
Texas State 45
TX-Arlington 37 2nd Half 15:18
Wichita State 38
(9) Maryland 29 2nd Half
George Washington 30
Presbyterian 23 2nd Half 20:00
Western Carolina 23
St Francis-NY 18 1st Half 6:59
Rider 23
Central Arkansas 23 1st Half 5:58
Jackson State 15
Kennesaw St 23 1st Half 4:49
Georgia Southern 20
Loyola-Chicago 16 1st Half 7:27
Northern Ky 10
Howard 18 1st Half 7:57
La Salle 20
San Jose St 4:00 PM
Cal-Irvine
Tennessee St 4:00 PM
Lipscomb
San Francisco 4:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Temple 4:00 PM
Kansas
San Diego 4:00 PM
Idaho
Concordia (OR) 4:00 PM
(20) Oregon State
Corban 4:00 PM
Portland State
Charleston Southern 5:00 PM
Wofford
UT Martin 5:00 PM
Pepperdine
Eastern Kentucky 5:00 PM
Mercer
Weber State 5:00 PM
Utah Valley U
North Dakota 5:30 PM
Towson
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Penn State
LSU-Shreveport 6:00 PM
Grambling
Brown 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Penn 6:00 PM
Navy
Xavier 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Georgetown 6:30 PM
Alabama
(13) Kentucky 7:00 PM
Central Michigan
Texas Southern 7:00 PM
TCU
South Dakota St 7:00 PM
(18) DePaul
Talladega 7:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Colorado
Alcorn State 7:00 PM
UAB
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Dayton 7:30 PM
(19) Iowa
Nevada 8:30 PM
BYU
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: What do you think of the new Twins home uniforms?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close