MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — April 28. That was the last time Justin Morneau had hit a home run, until he sent a Duente Heath pitch 370 feet towards Target Plaza in right field on Wednesday night.
Not that he hasn’t been productive for the Twins. In the 43 games since he last went yard, Morneau is hitting .299/.351/.372 with 12 doubles, 13 walks and 27 RBI. Still, Morneau knows he’s here to hit home runs, and getting back to hitting the long ball has been a frustrating process.
“You know the tee work, the drills, the one-hand drills, the stuff I do in the off-season or I do in Spring Training to try and feel comfortable or to get my swing where I want it to be,” he said after the game. “I’ve been doing that and sometimes when you do that you don’t get the results and that can be frustrating, but I’ve been around long enough to know that eventually hard work pays off.”
His manager, Ron Gardenhire, said that the foul ball Morneau pulled sharply into the camera well on the pitch prior to his home run got people’s attention in a good way.
“We all thought it was a good sign when he pulled the ball right past the camera in our dugout because he hadn’t done that in a long time, so once he did that and then he clicked on one, that was a good sign,” Gardenhire said.
Will this home run be the spark Morneau needs to get back into a home-run-hitting groove?
“It’s one of those things where hopefully it gets you going in the right direction. Sometimes the worst thing you can do is hit a home run, and you start trying to do that over and over again,” Morneau said, “but for me hopefully it’s the best case scenario. To get some consistency would be nice.”
Somewhat lost amidst the hype of Morneau getting back on track was the fact that his home run Wednesday night tied him for fifth place on the all-time list for the Twins. A place which formerly belonged solely to Minnesota legend Kirby Puckett.
Justin Morneau Talks About The Home Run
Asked about what it’s like to tie Puck, Morneau said, “It means a lot. He’s a hall of famer. He’s a guy that [has his] number retired, [is] responsible for bringing World Series’ to this organization. Any time your name is next to his is always special.”
Baseball is a game with a lot of narratives, and the danger is to try and anticipate them coming before they’re fully formed. To that end, we don’t know if this will be a jumping off point in terms of power numbers for Justin Morneau.
Ron Gardenhire Talks About The Win
Kevin Correia Talks About The Win
But if the Twins are going to climb back into the race for the American League Central – and dare I say it if Morneau’s going to have any trade value come July, then this will be a pivotal stretch for the slugger to see if he can get back to the kinds of home run numbers Twins fans have grown to expect.