The hottest hitter on the Twins roster is Delmon Young who is batting close to .400 in July, and at this pace the left fielder could drive in a career-high 119 runs.

Young was 4-for-4 Saturday night, including a home run and three RBI.

Young's 57 RBI since May 21 through the last homestand are the most in baseball. The big surprise is the big change in his statistics from last year.

As of the last homestand against Cleveland, Young was fifth in the league in RBI with 73, ninth in average at .316., 18th in slugging percentage at .511 and tied for sixth with 28 doubles.

Compare that to last year at the same time, when Young was tied for 100th with 27 RBI (former Twin Adam Everett, now with the Tigers, also had 27), didn't have enough bats to qualify for batting average and slugging, and was hitting .270 with a .353 slugging percentage.

Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra was asked to explain the big change in Young in one year.

"He doesn't have the head-shoulder drop any more," said Vavra, who has worked hard with Young. "His head's not moving, he's [keeping] a firm front side. So he's kind of putting it all together, which is a good thing to see."

Vavra added: "He came into spring training on a mission. He had that weight drop, and he was on a mission to clean up some things that he needed to do, and he did."

Vavra said that there isn't a day this season that he doesn't work with Young.

"Well it's consistent; it's an every day occurrence," Vavra said. "We go out in that cage every day, and we try to solve issues and problems that come up. He listens real well, he tries different things, but he's his own guy. He gets out there and does what he thinks is going to help himself to be successful, and he takes what we do in the cage and it's all on him then."

Unlike last season, Young isn't swinging at balls out of the strike zone as much.

"He's keeping his head still -- even the ones that are out of the zone he's hitting pretty well," Vavra said. "He's learning how to turn that field around. This field plays too big opposite field, and he's learning how to turn it around and go to the close side. He's a pretty smart player when it comes down to knowing what to do, and just getting his body in position to let his hands work is the key."

When the Twins gave up one of their top pitching prospects in Matt Garza and a solid shortstop in Jason Bartlett to obtain Young and utility infielder Brendan Harris in 2008, the second-guessers were screaming that the Twins got robbed when Young and Harris struggled.

It's a different story in 2010. Harris is in the minors, but Bartlett is hitting just .238 and Garza is 10-5 but has a mediocre 4.36 ERA.

Lucia healthy

Gophers hockey coach Dan Lucia is completely healthy now after suffering for 1 1/2 years with sarcoidosis, an ailment that affected his nerves. Lucia was asked if he thinks having the problem affected his coaching.

"I think that if you asked our staff and our players when the weeks I got my treatment, and my steroid IV, that they could see the difference in me physically," Lucia said. "So it was hard, but you never take your health for granted when you go through something like that, but it could have been a lot worse. So I'm just grateful that I had wonderful doctors at the Mayo Clinic, and they were able to diagnose and treat what I had."

Lucia added that it hurt from the energy standpoint. ''You just didn't have the energy, especially probably the first year, to really put in the time. Not so much the time but being able to recover physically from those treatments. The lack of sleep, the couple of days when you don't sleep and then when your body would crash. It was really hard physically."

Hardy hot

Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy was hitting well before the Twins left on their road trip to Baltimore. He was hitting .400 since the All-Star break (12-for-30) with five runs, three doubles and four RBI. His 12 hits were tied for sixth in the American League since the break. The Twins are 21-15 when he gets at least one hit and 12-3 when he gets an RBI. The Twins are 30-21 when he starts at shortstop and 22-25 when somebody else starts.

Relief pitcher Jesse Crain had an ERA of 5.47 on June 5. Before Saturday's game he had a 2.04 ERA in 15 appearances and now his overall mark is 3.43.

Jottings

All of the Gophers who signed football tenders last March are in summer school, except for receiver Marquise Hill, who will not be a Gopher because of academic problems. The Gophers don't start practice until Aug. 6, but most of the squad is taking part in captain practices.

Jason LaFrenz, associated athletic director of external relations, reports that the interest in Gopher football season tickets has picked up and there are only 200 available. However, the Gophers do have Indoor Club Seats and Suites available to all games. The Gophers expect to have single-game seats available this year with tickets returned from visiting teams. The Gophers have sold some 5,500 student season tickets so far.

Scott Matyas, who Gopher baseball coach John Anderson rates as the best closer in college baseball, was drafted 28th by Milwaukee but will not sign and will return to the Gophers this season. ... D.J. Snelten, a lefthanded pitcher from Lake Villa, Ill., who signed a tender with the Gophers, was drafted in the 30th round by the Astros but will enroll in school. And the same for pitcher Tom Windle of Osseo, who was drafted in the 28th round by the White Sox.

Gophers pitcher Billy Soule Jr., who has been with the Maple Plain town team, has joined the Brewster White Caps, who are in first place in the Cape Cod League. ... Ex-Gopher Mike Kvasnicka, drafted in the first round by the Astros, is hitting .364 for the Tri-City ValleyCats. The Mariners traded former Gopher Jack Hannahan to the Red Sox on Thursday. Hannahan, who was hitting .228 in 63 games with the Mariners' Tacoma farm team, will be assigned to Class AAA Pawtucket.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com