Bunting can help Revere; Valencia 'needs to be looking for a strike'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Bunting has been a work in progress for the Minnesota Twins' Ben Revere.
The speedy 5-foot-9 outfielder entered the 2011 season having laid down only 16 bunts in his young major league career. Given the speed Revere brings to base paths, the Twins have strongly encouraged that he increase those numbers.
After working regularly with coaches in spring training and into the season -- including Rod Carew -- the results are slowly coming. In 15 games this year Revere has attempted five bunts, picking up two hits and reaching safely on an error.
Sunday's series finale against the Tigers proved to be an example of the danger Revere can pose as a bunting threat. In the third inning, with Miguel Cabrera playing third base, Revere squared for a bunt, sending the ball bouncing down the third base line. Cabrera lumbered in and fielded the ball, but his throw sailed wide of first baseman Prince Fielder, allowing Revere to scamper to second.
"He's trying. That wasn't even a great bunt, but if he gets it on the ground he can fly. He just hauls it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
"That's what he needs to understand. It's not always about where they're playing you. It's about making it fair or foul or getting it in the right spot where they panic a little bit trying to make a play."
The chance to bunt came again in the ninth inning -- this time with less favorable results. Revere tried to lay down a sacrifice to move lead runner Denard Span over, but popped the ball up to Cabrera. Revere's bunting isn't fine-tuned yet, but his willingness to square up is an encouraging sign for the coaching staff.
"Absolutely. Love to see it," Gardenhire said. "Where they're playing him now, itt's already got him a base hit right by a third baseman off his glove because they're playing him so close for the bunt that he slapped it right by him."
Twins want Valencia to be more selective
Third baseman Danny Valencia's search for consistency has been an up-and-down battle at Triple A-Rochester.
Sent to the minors on May 9 after a managing 19 hits in 100 at-bats this season (.190 avg.), Valencia has had scattered success with the Red Wings. A 2-for-16 start gave way to an 11-game hit streak that increased his average to .288 and saw him rack up nine RBI's and a pair of home runs. His hot streak was halted Sunday with an 0-for-4 outing.
Though Valencia's tendency to chase pitches out of the strike zone remains an issue, the Twins are satisfied with his progress but are still looking for more.
"A guy like Valencia needs to be looking for a strike, jump on it and drive it into the gap," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "It's not as consistent yet as we'd want. We'll continue to monitor it."
Valencia's patience at the plate has been a frequent concern throughout his career. Not usually one to work the count, he has walked only twice combined this season - once with the Twins and once with Rochester. But Ryan adamantly points out that the team is not looking for him to get a free pass to first.
"I'm not so worried about walks with him. I would be worried about making sure he's swinging at strikes," Ryan said. "He's a run-producer and we're not in the mode to go up looking for a walk. He should go up looking to drive a ball into the gap and producing some runs."