Brunansky hoping first year as Twins coach isn't also his last

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2013 - 7:59 AM

The Twins offense took a step backward this year under the tutelage of former star Tom Brunansky.

hide

Minnesota Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky talks to Clete Thomas (11) in the dugout during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Miami.

Photo: J Pat Carter, ASSOCIATED PRESS

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

By just about any measure, the Twins offense has slipped this year. There have been a handful more home runs and doubles, but the batting average is down nearly 20 points and the on-base percentage by a dozen; they will score about 80 fewer runs; and the strikeouts have exploded.

Amid the carnage of another 90-loss season, hitting coach Tom Brunansky is as frustrated as his pupils.

“My whole goal was to try to expedite the [maturation] process, to make sure our hitters are more major league-ready at the end of the year than they were at the beginning,” the 53-year-old former Twins slugger said. “A few have reached that goal, but not as many as I’d hoped. That’s what’s so disappointing.”

Brunansky, who spent the three previous seasons working with Twins minor leaguers, knew when he was promoted to the majors last winter that he would be working with many of those same players, as the franchise tried to transition to a younger roster. The challenge, he said, was to get hitters to believe they belonged.

“It’s important that they reach a confidence level so that when they go to the plate, they’re playing the game. They’re not thinking, ‘I need this hit to prove I belong here, that I should stay in the big leagues,’ ” Brunansky said. “My goal is to get them to accept that, if they just try to help the team, not do it for themselves, their worth will be evident. That’s how you win. But it’s so hard for young guys to believe that. That’s what I see down the road.”

He hopes to be back next year and says he has enjoyed the challenge, but he admits to being uncertain about his future. “It’s there,” he says of the year-end anxiety. “You can’t walk away from that. With us, it’s all one-year contracts. I knew that coming in — when you reach this level, it’s about won-loss, and showing improvement.”

That’s why the incredible barrage of strikeouts is so bothersome. The Twins eclipsed the franchise record of strikeouts in a season before Labor Day, and their total of 1,391 entering the weekend — the fifth-most in major league history — is already 300 beyond last year’s total.

“We’ve got way too many guys striking out way too often. We’ve got to fix that,” General Manager Terry Ryan said. “And I think we can. We’ve got to have a different mind-set, maybe, with two strikes. We’ve got to jump on the first-pitch fastball more often.”

Are the strikeouts a reflection of the hitting coach? To some extent, yes, Ryan said: “No one’s hiding from that. It’s been a transitional year for a lot of things, and that’s one of them — a new hitting coach.”

Brunansky has been tireless in working with Twins hitters, doing individual coaching in the batting cages nearly every day. But the strikeouts won’t stop.

“It’s really frustrating because they come in situations where they shouldn’t happen. You can’t [eliminate] strikeouts, we understand that, but there are situations where we have to compete. If we’ve got a runner on third base, we can’t take a fastball on the outer edge of the plate.”

He hasn’t accomplished what he had hoped, not even close; only a few hitters have improved, though Brunansky said he has made progress in winning his pupils’ trust.

And he is optimistic things will be better next year, in part because of all the failure the Twins have experienced this season. “You almost have to give young players at-bats to fail, before you can reach them,” Brunansky said. “Guys come up thinking, ‘Hey, I was doing well at Triple-A,’ so how do you get them to adjust when they struggle up here? A lot of our guys have gone through that now.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 57 2nd Half 2:34
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 45 2nd Half 3:30
Houston 48
Yale 36 2nd Half 14:20
Bucknell 40
Northern Colorado 32 2nd Half 15:07
Fla Gulf Coast 46
Belmont 48 1st Half 0:59
Mercer 28
Massachusetts 28 1st Half 1:42
Georgia State 35
George Mason 29 1st Half 1:49
Winthrop 22
Portland State 3 1st Half 15:03
Princeton 15
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 5:00 PM
Alabama State
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
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: Do you like the Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close