MINNEAPOLIS -- With the Twins struggling through a tough season, Justin Morneau's apparent return to form may have gone overlooked outside of Target Field.
After not playing any September games in each of the previous two years due to concussion-like symptoms, Morneau had played 12 this month entering Thursday's series finale against the Royals. And more importantly, Morneau seems to be getting even stronger as the season winds to a close.
The 31-year-old entered Thursday hitting .322 (77-for-239) with 41 RBIs over his last 63 games dating to June 29. He hit just .229 in his first 56 games.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said the improvement is due to one simple factor -- Morneau is healthy.
"We know he was battling earlier [this season] with that wrist thing," Gardenhire said. "Once we got a little finality with that and kind of got past that, he's been able to add to his workload. Do all of his extra work or at least more of it in the cage and all his drills. And you're seeing results out on the field -- he's not as limited as he was because of that wrist thing that he was fighting earlier in the year. He's kind of past that."
Overall, Morneau has 19 home runs and 75 RBIs -- both his highest totals since being selected as an All-Star in 2009. Morneau's .278 average coming into Thursday ranked as the fourth-highest average of his career.
"That's because he's healthy and he feels good," Gardenhire said. "As I've said a thousand times already, it's nice to see him smile and having fun playing baseball."