Plouffe shakes off rough start with hitting streak
Twins third baseman sees results with adjustments at plate
SEATTLE -- On a night when not many Twins got anything going off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two hits. One was a sharp single to right field to break up a perfect game in the fifth inning on Friday night. The other was a seven- or eight-hopper up the middle.
Plouffe will happily take them, and he's been pretty happy lately.
Entering Saturday's game, Plouffe had a six-game hitting streak during which he batted .435 (10-for-23) with two doubles, one home run, two RBIs and an on-base percentage of .480.
"I think that's a product of laying off borderline pitches and getting myself into better counts," said Plouffe, who led the Twins in RBIs last year with 80. "If the pitcher sees you swinging at those borderline pitches, he's just going to continue to throw those and you're not going to have great at-bats. So if you're able to shrink your zone down, that helps. And when I'm going well, that's what I do."
Plouffe said home runs are great, and he hit a career-high 24 of those in 2012 (14 the last two seasons), but bouncers that leak through the infield are very highly appreciated as well.
"Those are confidence-boosters," he said. "You need them in the course of a season. You'll take those all day long. When I'm going well, I'm going up the middle, using the whole field."
Plouffe said he and Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky made that approach a priority in 2014 and that he got away from it a bit in the first weeks of this season. But last week he said the two talked again.
"We went back to basics, made an adjustment in the last week or so, and I've felt a lot better at the plate," Plouffe said.
Minnesota manager Paul Molitor has been around the organization long enough to see Plouffe come up through the system. He said he likes what he's seeing now.
"He's physically matured, mentally matured," Molitor said. "Last year was a big step up for him as a player. I think defensively he got his confidence back, and offensively, he led the team in RBIs.
"He can maybe hit you 15 or 20 home runs, but I think he's going to be a guy who drives the ball all around the field, gets his fair share of doubles, and he's a guy that I like seeing up at the plate in a tough matchup late if he's got the chance to drive in a run."