Notes: Morneau heats up on home soil

Notes: Morneau heats up on home soil

TORONTO -- Going home just got a whole lot easier for Canadian-born Justin Morneau.

Prior to the start of the Twins series against the Blue Jays, Morneau hadn't experienced much success north of the border. Over his five-year career, the Twins first baseman was hitting just .053 with one RBI at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

He started to reverse that trend on Monday, though, when he homered in his first two at-bats of the game and drove home three runs en route to his best professional game played on home soil.

"It was nice to get a couple of hits out of the way," Morneau said. "It would have been better if we had won, I was struggling a little bit in here before, but hopefully it's all in the past now."

Morneau thinks most of his struggles in Toronto stemmed from the fact that he tried to put on too much of a show for the Canadian crowd.

"I was probably trying to do too much in the past," Morneau said. "I get pretty excited to come and play here. I just try and tell myself to relax, enjoy it, have fun. It seemed to work out last night."

It's relatively easy to understand why Morneau may have been pressing during previous trips to Toronto. He gets to play in front of friends and family, and the Canadian television media follow his every move, on and off the field.

To make the stakes even higher, he's playing against the team he grew up watching as a kid. The Jays won five division championships and two World Series in the late 1980's and early 90's, something Morneau credits for getting him, and a lot of his fellow countrymen, interested in trying to make a career out of playing baseball.

"Guys saw what they were doing and said, 'That's what I want to do,' Morneau said. "It took over from hockey for a lot of guys. They wanted to play in the big leagues for the Blue Jays, and it helped with them doing so well. It gave kids something they could shoot for."

Morneau now has five Major League seasons under his belt, playoff experience, and an American League Most Valuable Player award to draw experience from. He's at the point in his career now where he can relish the opportunity to play in Canada instead of worrying about it.

"I just think Justin really enjoys it here," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's really proud to be from Canada. He likes the attention, I think. This is the one place that he can handle it better than probably anywhere."

Rondell feeling fine: Rondell White might not have recorded a hit in his first game back from the disabled list, but he still received a lot of positive reviews on Tuesday for his performance. White, who's been out since April 4 with a calf injury, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout during the series opener against Toronto but had a couple of very good at-bats during the game.

"He just missed one to left," Gardenhire said. "He had good swings at it -- hit a bullet to first base and stayed on that ball. ... The only issue is going to be running, he's not going to do too well running -- it's not there."

White's legs are still not even close to being 100 percent. Instead of being able to take his normal spot in left field, White is relegated to the designated hitter role. Despite that minor detail, White says he felt great in the batter's box at least until he faced Jays closer Jeremy Accardo in the top of the ninth inning.

"I felt better than I thought I was going to feel," White said. "Except in that last at-bat, when he was throwing 96 mph. Other than that, I felt good."

Redmond ready for action: Twins catcher Mike Redmond is expected to be back in the lineup for Wednesday's afternoon game against the Jays. Redmond hasn't played since he popped a knuckle in his left hand on July 19 against the Tigers. He practiced hard prior to Monday's series opener versus Toronto and when he woke up on Tuesday, he felt he had progressed enough to pronounce himself fit to play.

"Every day it's gotten better and better," Redmond said. "I hit a lot yesterday and it feels great today."

Gardenhire would start Redmond on Wednesday to give catcher Joe Mauer a much needed rest. Mauer has played in every game since the All-Star break and could use a day off.

"Joe's sore," Gardenhire said. "He's catching tonight but his body is feeling it, you can see it, so he might just get a day completely [off] tomorrow."

In good company: Even though Twins ace Johan Santana suffered through his worst outing of the season on Monday night, he was still good enough to join the company of one of baseball's all-time greats. Santana lasted five innings against Toronto, which marks the 112 consecutive time that the left-hander has pitched that deep into a game. He is now tied with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson for the third-longest streak in the history of baseball. Boston's Curt Schilling (147) and David Cone (145) rank 1-2 respectively.

Home run blues: The four home runs allowed by Twins ace Johan Santana marked the 12th time this season Minnesota pitchers have given up three or more home runs in a game. The Twins have allowed 115 homers this season, which is the second-highest in the American League.

Did you know? The Twins have struck out just 500 times through 99 games this season, tied for second-fewest in all of baseball. Minnesota second baseman Luis Castillo has been the toughest Twins batter to strike out this year. He ranks second in the American League with just one strikeout for every 15.3 at-bats.

Coming up: Carlos Silva (8-10, 4.60 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for Minnesota when the Twins close out a three-game series against the Blue Jays at 11:37 a.m. CT on Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre. Toronto will counter with rookie right-hander Jesse Litsch (2-4, 4.54).

Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.