Twins piling up strikeouts more than usual

Twins piling up strikeouts more than usual

CHICAGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has an easy explanation for why his club has been striking out so much recently.

"I thought about that long and hard and I decided that we're not making contact," Gardenhire said, dryly. "Not putting it in play enough, which is causing the strikeouts."

He has an easy solution, too: "Yes, that would be hit the ball. See the ball, hit the ball. I've got good theories on that stuff. I know this about strikeouts: You've got no chance to get a hit when you strike out. No chance at all.

"People are going to strike out, but we've been striking out way too much."

The Twins struck out 36 times over the first three games of this weekend's series against the White Sox. Entering Sunday, they were fifth in baseball (and second in the American League) with 969 strikeouts.

Aaron Hicks, who was recently optioned to Triple-A, shares the team lead (84) with Josh Willingham and, oddly, three-time batting champ Joe Mauer.

"I don't have an explanation for Mauer at all, because he's not a strikeout guy," Gardenhire said.

Justin Morneau trails narrowly with 82. Gardenhire noted that guys like Morneau, Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Colabello -- players who predominantly hit for power -- will rack up strikeouts every year. But the skipper also expects them to adjust their approach in RBI situations.

"You're going to have some strikeouts if you drive the baseball," Gardenhire said. "And you can handle a strikeout every once in a while. Situational hitting is more important. There's times when you're trying to drive the ball and a strikeout is OK. But there's times when they're giving you RBIs, infield's back, that you really have to defend. You have to find a way to put the ball in play and get a run in. Those are the times that our guys have to do a little better."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.