Posted at 9:35 PM on May 3, 2006
by David Zingler
Coming off a disappointing season and in the midst of a lackluster start to this one, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is keeping a level head, "(The season) isn't going the way I'd like, I got off to a tough start. I've felt better the last couple of days, been working hard and I still have my confidence. If I stay consistent, I should be all right."
Although his batting average of .214 is dismal and his on-base-percentage of .275 would only be a respectable batting average, Morneau is leading the Twins with 6 homeruns and 16 RBI. Despite the fact his power numbers are solid at this point, many fans have been waiting for the big Canadian to heat up and go on a prolonged power binge. Don't think it hasn't crossed his mind as well.
"In Tampa last (May)," the soon-to-be 25-year-old responded when asked about the last time he was in a groove. "It's been frustrating, but it's starting to come back now. The last couple of days I've felt good. I haven't had any 'A' games, but I've managed to get a hit here and there. It's one of those things where sometimes when I start feeling good, I swing at too many pitches -- I feel so good and am seeing the ball so well that I can get myself out."
In his young career, Morneau has found the tight rope between being too aggressive and too patient -- a delicate balancing act for any power hitter -- tough to navigate. Falling behind early in the count, in particular has been a problem.
"It happens, sometimes you're 0-2, sometimes you're up 2-0," he said, brushing off the idea that he has fallen into a pattern. "I don't know -- I don't really think about it too much, I haven't really looked at it. Obviously it's easier to hit when you are ahead in the count, but I try to stay aggressive and sometimes that gets me in trouble. I'd rather be aggressive than missing pitches I should be hitting."
"(I need to work on) consistency, not giving away at bats," the British Columbia native continued. "It's one of those things where you have to keep it simple and not try to do too much. I am just trying to be consistent with my at bats, my approach and I will be all right."
Late last season Morneau, like virtually all Twins fans, openly discussed his desire for a mentor; a veteran power that could help his development. This year however, he seems resigned to the fact that he is going to have to learn on his own.
"It's just one of those things that I have to learn by myself," the budding slugger commented. "Everybody hits a different way, I mean no one can really hit like Tony (Batista). He's a new guy I can watch -- he always has a plan. He goes up there looking for his pitch -- you can learn from that stuff. It's one of those things...that will come with time, I am not really too worried about it though."
Although he seems confident, many Twins fans have begun to voice some concern, not only about him, but also about the team's season slipping away. According to Morneau however, there's no need to panic, "We have a good team, we are capable of winning," he explained. "We just dug ourselves a little hole, but I think we?ll be all right."
Let me get this straight. The Twins have a hitting coach, Joe Vavra. They have their former hitting coach, Scott Ullger. They have hall-of-famer Paul Molitor around. They have should-be hall-of-famer Tony Oliva around. And yet there's no one Justin Morneau can learn from? He has to do it on his own?
Something doesn't add up. Either all these guys are incompetent teachers or Morneau refuses to learn. Either way, this is wrong.
i don't know if it helps, but protrade picked morneau today as the one guy who's hitting better than his numbers indicate. maybe we should bat him third. castillo and stewart are always on base, mauer always walks, and by the time morneau's up, he's either leading off the next inning or there's two outs. if they want to keep the pressure off him, he should be batting with one on and one away once in awhile.
Maybe it's just a bad habit resulting from the curse of being a Minnesota fan, but why do we always have to bring our players down? Sure, Justin hasn't been as fantastic a power hitter as we were hoping when we got rid of Doug to make room for him, but he's still second on the team in both home runs and RBIs. Maybe he should be doing better, but he can't be expected to carry the entire team. He has more than demonstrated his potential- he just needs to develop, without having to worry about criticisms from those who expect too much too quickly. Remember, this will only be his second full year as a starter- and it's only May.
Wow, it's neat to look back in retrospect and see where Justin Morneau and the Twins have gone! Who would have thought the division would be within reach right now?! I've been a Twins fan my whole life...they play with so much heart - you just gotta love 'em :-) Keep it up Justin - you are doing an awesome job!
Way to go, Justin! 33 for MVP baby! WOOO HOOO!