DETROIT – The Twins entered Tuesday leading the American League in runs, hits and even slugging percentage for the month of May, and some of their hitters believe the reason is more than a hot streak.
“I’m in a good routine now with Bruno,” second baseman Brian Dozier — owner of a .293 average and two home runs so far this month — said of hitting coach Tom Brunansky. “He’s good about making some tweaks with me, whether it’s my front foot, my stance, anything. He gets me back to square one.”
Added right fielder Torii Hunter: “He’s been working with me on swinging at strikes, not dropping my hands, pitch recognition. Things I might not see in my last at-bat, he comes up and says, ‘Hey, you dropped your hands,’ so I’ll be aware of it.”
That’s the attention to detail required of a hitting coach, and one of the reasons, manager Paul Molitor said, that he made Brunansky, a holdover from Ron Gardenhire’s staff, the first hire for his staff, too.
“I see the relationship he has with players, the trust factor. I see the knowledge,” Molitor said. “In addition to knowing guys’ swings, giving them game plans, there has to be a connection with the players, and I think our guys put a lot of faith in him. You look at the numbers, it’s hard to argue.”
Brunansky’s task is getting more difficult, though, as the Twins evolve into a younger team. The job has become as much about philosophy and strategy as mechanics.
“Young guys are still learning when to be more patient, when to be aggressive. We’ve got [Eddie] Rosario right now — he’s a hunter,” Molitor said. “And there are times when you have to take away that, teach him that sometimes the game tells you it’s not time to hunt.”
• When outfielder Oswaldo Arcia strained a muscle in his hip May 3, he said the injury was minor, that he would need only a week, certainly no longer than 10 days, to recover. Turns out, his diagnosis was a little off. Arcia hasn’t been able to swing a bat yet, assistant general manager Rob Antony said, though “the hip is getting better, loosening up.” The injury has lingered long enough, Molitor said, that “he’s probably going to have to go get some at-bats somewhere” in a rehab assignment.
• Righthander Tim Stauffer threw nine pitches to retire three Toledo hitters on Monday, the first day of his rehab assignment with Class AAA Rochester. Stauffer, recovering from a sore intercostal muscle in his right side, is eligible to be activated Saturday, though the Twins are likely to make sure he’s completely healed.