MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau was on the bench for Game 1 of Minnesota's Saturday doubleheader. Meanwhile, Josh Willingham served as designated hitter to help him stay fresh enough to start Game 2.
Morneau's month has been somewhat of a struggle, especially after a strong May. His June numbers included a .220 average, .297 slugging percentage, and only one home run entering Saturday. Morneau hit five home runs in May while slugging .642.
But manager Ron Gardenhire is encouraged by Morneau's recent adjustments. He was 3-for-8 in the two games prior to Saturday.
"He's changed it a little bit," Gardenhire said. "I think his balance is a little better. I don't think you're seeing that big stride where he's jumping out. He looked like he put some nice swings on it."
And for the 2006 American League Most Valuable Player, Gardenhire doesn't need to spend too much time on pep talks.
"I just basically check on his health," Gardenhire said. "He goes about his business. He works hard. He has a good routine. He's making minor adjustments. They look like they're a little bit better right now. He's been around long enough.
Willingham was a virtual lock to start both games.
"That's almost a guarantee, unless something really bad happens," Gardenhire said.