Gardenhire impressed by Valencia

Gardenhire impressed by Valencia

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Third baseman Danny Valencia had an impressive day at the plate against the Pirates on Saturday, going 2-for-3 with a double and a three-run homer in the Twins' 4-2 win.

Valencia showed opposite-field power with a double in the fifth, before turning on a pitch for a three-run shot over the left-field fence in the sixth. Both hits came against left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes.

"That was nice," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Danny has been working at it. He's been on the extra field taking extra swings, doing things in the cages. He's told himself he's going to use the whole field and drive the ball. When he starts looking around and tries to hit the ball where they ain't, is when he starts to get in trouble. But when he gets the barrel out on the ball, he can drive it with anybody, so that was nice."

Gardenhire has been impressed with Valencia's propensity to hit the ball to the opposite field with power so far this spring, as he said that Valencia got away from that last season.

Valencia went through a sophomore slump of sorts last year, when he hit .246/.294/.383 with 15 homers in 154 games, after hitting .311/.351/.448 with seven homers in 85 games as a rookie in '10.

"He's so stinking strong," Gardenhire said. "When he doesn't try to get so goosey and hit the ball in the upper deck, he can do a lot of things. It's just better fundamentals. He has better balance at the plate and he drove the ball today. You saw that. That ball was crushed into the wind at the time."