Souhan: Morneau searching for the elusive home run swing

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 12, 2013 - 4:57 PM

He’s asked his hitting coach, and the best home-run hitter on the team. “Anyone who will listen, basically,’’ he said.

He’s tried taking extra batting practice, hitting off a tee from home plate, swinging with one hand, concentrating on putting backspin on the ball so it will soar through the air the way it once did, not so long ago, when he was on his way to becoming the second-best home run hitter in Twins history. “I’ve tried all the tricks in my bag,’’ he said.

Justin Morneau keeps searching for the sweet spot and getting tart results. He has gone 168 plate appearances since his last home run, on April 28. Has has two home runs this season. “I’ve never been through anything like this,’’ he said.

Games like Tuesday’s dull the pain. Morneau went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. With two out in the eighth, he fouled off four pitches from Phillies lefty Antonio Bastardo before lining a game-winning single up the middle. He leads the team in RBI and is second in batting average.

He is fulfilling many of his responsibilities, but while fans long begged Joe Mauer to turn into Morneau at the plate, Morneau has become more like Mauer. “I’ve been searching for the answer for a while,’’ he said.

Morneau’s next home run will tie him with Kirby Puckett for fifth on the team’s all-time home-run list, but he expected to pass that milestone in April, not pursue it deep into June. “I’d obviously like to hit more home runs,’’ he said. “That gives us a better chance to win. That means driving in more runs. That’s what I want to do.’’

Before John McDonald’s knee hit Morneau’s head on July 7, 2010, Morneau was having his best season, hitting .345 with 18 homers, a .437 on-base percentage and a .618 slugging percentage. His OPS (on-base plus slugging) was 1.055. Last year, Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown and the AL MVP award with an OPS of .999.

Kent Hrbek ranks second in team history with 293 home runs, amassed in 14 seasons. Morneau hit 181 in his first 7 ½ seasons, including his first two, in which he bounced between the majors and minors. He has hit 25 since. At 32, with his contract expiring this year, his future will be determined by his ability to recapture the swing of his youth.

“We have discussions about this,’’ he said, quietly, before Tuesday’s game. “Getting on base puts pressure on the other team and helps you score runs, but as much as it’s my job to get on base, it’s also my job to drive in the guys who are on base. I feel like I’ve been having good at-bats with runners in scoring position. It’s just the results of the home runs are something I’d like to see.

“I’ve been trying to do everything I’ve done in the past when I lose that home run swing to try and find it. It feels good. I’m just not getting the results I want. They’re in there somewhere.’’

Aaron Hicks has more homers from each side of the plate than Morneau does overall. Morneau trails Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, Mauer, Chris Parmelee and the injured Trevor Plouffe in the category that defines his position and role.

If you believe in happy endings, you can hope that Morneau’s homerless streak could make him affordable and willing to re-sign with the Twins. For now, he seeks out hitting coach Tom Brunansky, and teammate Josh Willingham, and anyone else who might see a hitch keeping him from reaching the seats.

“I feel like, especially in the last week, I’ve been on pitches I feel I should be hitting over the fence, and missing them by a quarter of an inch, and they’re pop-ups,’’ he said. “Sometimes you can’t figure it out, and the more you try, the more you go in the other direction.

“I have to believe that if I keep squaring the ball up and hitting it hard that eventually they’re going to turn into homers. I have to believe that.’’

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Souhan blog: Walters, Morneau overcome Twins' mistakes

    Tuesday June 11, 2013

    Twins beat Phillies, 3-2

  • Justin Morneau drove in the game-winning run, scoring Jamey Carroll with an eighth-inning single Tuesday in a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia.

  • Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau

  • Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, right

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 3 Top 9th Inning
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 Bottom 4th Inning
Washington 2
Boston 6:05 PM
Minnesota
Toronto 6:05 PM
Baltimore
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Chicago
Dallas 9:30 PM
Portland
Calgary 6:00 PM
Boston
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Dallas 6:30 PM
Florida
NY Islanders 7:00 PM
Nashville
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Arizona
Montreal 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 50 2nd Half 5:56
Siena 61
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Navy 6:00 PM
Colgate
Temple 6:00 PM
East Carolina
UAB 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Lafayette
American Univ 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Wisconsin 6:00 PM
Minnesota
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
Arkansas 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Morehead State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
North Florida
Southern Ill 6:05 PM
Missouri State
Texas State 6:30 PM
Appalachian St
SC State 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 6:30 PM
Coppin State
Middle Tennessee 6:30 PM
FIU
Texas-Arlington 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Norfolk State 6:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Georgia State 7:00 PM
ULM
Marshall 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Rice 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Grambling St
Alabama A&M 7:30 PM
Jackson State
Sam Houston St 7:30 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:30 PM
Nicholls
Portland State 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Southern U 7:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
TX A&M-CC
SE Louisiana 7:45 PM
New Orleans
California 8:00 PM
Arizona
Eastern Ill 8:00 PM
Belmont
Memphis 8:00 PM
Connecticut
VA Commonwealth 8:00 PM
Davidson
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Marist 8:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northwestern St 8:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
North Texas 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 8:00 PM
Washington
Idaho 8:00 PM
Weber State
Abilene Christian 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Eastern Wash 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Bradley 8:35 PM
Drake
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Long Beach State
UC Riverside 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 10:00 PM
Washington St
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 34 2nd Half 11:50
UCLA 50
Texas State 51 2nd Half 5:43
Appalachian St 53
TX-Arlington 59 2nd Half 7:41
Georgia Southern 24
SC State 27 2nd Half
Bethune-Cookman 24
Delaware State 23 2nd Half 19:46
Coppin State 38
Portland 23 2nd Half
Santa Clara 35
Norfolk State 17 2nd Half
Hampton 28
NC A&T 38 2nd Half
NC Central 18
Savannah State 22 1st Half 11:00
Florida A&M 13
Virginia Tech 14 1st Half 7:19
Pittsburgh 14
Central Arkansas 6 1st Half 12:31
Nicholls 14
Houston Baptist 8 1st Half 11:00
TX A&M-CC 15
Gardner-Webb 11 1st Half 11:55
Radford 12
Georgia 21 1st Half 7:50
Missouri 14
Old Dominion 16 1st Half 7:48
Marshall 18
Ark-Little Rock 18 1st Half 9:18
Louisiana 9
South Alabama 13 1st Half 11:57
Arkansas State 14
Georgia State 0 1st Half 20:00
ULM 0
Sam Houston St 5:30 PM
Lamar
SE Louisiana 5:30 PM
New Orleans
Northwestern St 5:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Alabama A&M 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Grambling
Southern U 5:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 5:45 PM
Mercer
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Incarnate Word
La Salle 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Illinois 6:00 PM
Nebraska
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Rice
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Oakland
Missouri State 6:05 PM
Indiana State
Georgia Tech 7:00 PM
(15) North Carolina
Presbyterian 7:00 PM
High Point
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
UAB
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
North Texas
Wichita State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Bradley 7:05 PM
Drake
Vanderbilt 7:30 PM
(12) Kentucky
Colorado 8:00 PM
USC
San Francisco 8:00 PM
Pacific
FIU 8:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
Weber State 8:00 PM
Idaho
Purdue 8:25 PM
Minnesota
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Hawaii 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Northern Ariz 9:00 PM
Portland State
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA
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: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close