BOSTON -- Justin Morneau admits that he came into the 2008 season wanting to hit more home runs. It hasn't exactly worked out as planned. The Twins first baseman had just 12 on the season heading into Wednesday's series finale against the Red Sox. Perhaps he gave it a little too much focus?
"Maybe it's true that the more you try to hit home runs, the less you hit them," Morneau said. After tallying 24 home runs heading into the All-Star break last season, Morneau's long-ball total has been nearly cut in half with only four games left in the first half. It's a continuation of the low home run numbers that Morneau put up in the second half of the '07 season, when he hit just eight, giving him 31 on the season. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said earlier this week that he believes the decrease in homers for Morneau is a result of teams pitching the former American League MVP differently. "I think he is taking what they are giving him," Gardenhire said. "If you watch, catchers don't try to give him too awful much towards the middle part of the plate. They stay away from there. If they do come in, it's way off the plate. I think pitchers are doing a better job trying to keep his balls in the ballpark and not giving in to him." Morneau said that while his approach hasn't changed much, he's been able to use the entire field more than in the past. "If I look at it, I probably have more hits middle-away than the pull side this season," Morneau said. "It's just a matter of seeing what they are trying to do and not trying to do anymore with it than what they are giving me. If they are throwing me something soft away, hit it to left. It's whatever works." Morneau feels that he's one hot streak away from getting his home run total back on track. He hit his 13th of the season in the first inning of Wednesday's game against the Red Sox. But while home runs are nice, Morneau is satisfied with the way he's played, due to his .313 batting average and 65 RBIs heading into Wednesday's game. The consistency he's showing in that high average has accomplished another one of his preseason goals -- to eliminate the many highs and lows he's endured through a season. "I just think the adjustments are coming quicker," Morneau said. "The homers haven't been there, but at the same time, there is no disappointment in where I'm at right now, or where the team is at. As a team, we're fighting for a playoff spot, and I'm going to the All-Star Game."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.