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Updated: March 28th, 2012 5:45pm
Reusse: Twins will upgrade home run total, if nothing else

Reusse: Twins will upgrade home run total, if nothing else

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by Patrick Reusse
1500ESPN.com

FORT MYERS, FLA. _The Twins hit 103 home runs in 2011. It was the lowest total in the American League and No. 28 among the 30 major league teams.

Blame it on Target Field? The Twins allowed 161 home runs in 2011, which was tied for the fifth most in the American League.

When Ben Revere was introduced to the lineup, there was a thought the Twins would try to take advantage of Target Field's dimensions and build a team on speed.

All winter, the talk was of Denard Span and Jamey Carroll at the top of the order, and Alexi Casilla and Revere at the bottom. Four leadoff hitters. The Twins were going to slap the ball and move runners.

Or maybe not.

Early in spring training, there were hints from mainstream media reporters on the scene that the Twins were far from committed to Revere as a regular outfielder _ that what they really wanted was for Trevor Plouffe to win a job on the corner, along with Josh Willingham (with Span in center).

Last week, manager Ron Gardenhire realized that Willingham had a chance to be a disaster in right field, particularly with those difficult angles at Target Field. So, he was moved to left (where he had played through his career), and the Twins waited to see Plouffe in right.

Plouffe was out with a hamstring injury when the move was made with Willingham. He didn't get into a game until Wednesday, and that a Class AAA game against Baltimore's team.

The location was Field 2 at the Lee County Sports Complex. Plantation Road runs behind the left-field fence. There's the ballpark fence, then an exterior fence, then a ditch and then the road.

Plouffe was facing Armando Galarraga, he of the near perfect game a couple of years ago. Plouffe hit a hard ground ball inside the third-base line for a double in his first at-bat.

He homered to left field in his second at-bats. He hit a giant home run that carried to Plantation Road in his third at-bat. And he homered again in his fourth at-bat before calling it an afternoon.

Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra saw the first two home runs. "If Plouffe plays regularly, he's going to run into 20 home runs, at a minimum,'' Vavra said. "He has extra-strong hands.''

Luke Hughes has already run into five home runs this spring. "That guy is strong,'' said Rob Antony, the assistant general manager.

Hughes is a dead pull hitter. "Just like Willingham,'' Antony said. "And, Josh has made a good career out of it.''

Justin Morneau has showed his power swing the past few days. Chris Parmelee, the rookie who appears set to play first base, has some power. So does third baseman Danny Valencia.

Can't tell you the wins and losses, with the pitching problems on this club, but if the Twins are healthy, they are going to be much closer to the league average of 162 home runs in 2012 than the feeble 103 of last season.

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse
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