Scorching Trevor Plouffe continues hot streak, credits everyone else
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MINNEAPOLIS -- For much of the past two seasons -- maybe more -- key people in the Minnesota Twins organization have questioned whether former first-round draft pick Trevor Plouffe "gets it."
"Gets it" -- as in does Plouffe understand what it takes mentally, physically and otherwise, to be an impactful major league baseball player?
Truth is, had Plouffe not been out of minor league options it's likely he would have been banished to Triple-A Rochester right behind Danny Valencia in early May.
Funny how things work out, because since Valencia was demoted Plouffe is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, and he continued his torrid streak on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-for-5, three-RBI performance that raised his slugging percentage to .507.
Plouffe delivered a two-run homer to left field in the second inning off right-hander Kyle Kendrick that put the Twins up 3-0. He later drove in another run with an RBI single, then doubled off the wall in right-center with one out in the seventh, scoring eventually.
Since May 16, Plouffe is hitting .311 with nine home runs, 17 RBIs and a slugging percentage over .700. His 10 home runs on the season put him on pace for 25 or so -- and that includes a frigid April in which Plouffe barely cracked the starting lineup and failed to sniff the Mendoza line.
The bottom third of the Twins' lineup was a black hole for the first five weeks of the season. But thanks to Plouffe -- and also a red-hot Jamey Carroll -- the bottom of the lineup is now, dare we say, dangerous.
And Plouffe is starting to prove he "gets it."
"I think the team doing well helps a lot," Plouffe said of his hot streak. "When guys around you are hitting it kind of helps you out, it's contagious. They say it all the time and it's true. The way (Josh) Willingham has been swinging the bat, and (Ryan) Doumit, and (Justin) Morneau -- being able to follow those guys, they're always on base. It helps."
In 2011 Plouffe struggled finding a comfort zone in the big leagues. He was in the position of fighting for a roster spot, which was a burden that weighed more heavily than if he were feeling comfortable and just trying to help the team win every night -- as he is right now.
"This year I really bought into that," Plouffe said. "Not that I didn't last year. I wanted to win last year for sure. But that's one thing that Morneau has really pressed into my mind -- it's not about one guy, it's about everyone coming together. And as the saying goes, a rising tide raises all ships. So we're rooting for each other, and everyone has each other's backs. When hitters around you are hitting and on base all the time it's going to put the pressure on the pitcher, and therefore you get better pitches to hit."
Plouffe has played six different defensive positions already this season, but since May 16 he has started at third base 12 times. When asked if it helps that he has seemingly settled in at the hot corner for now, Plouffe said, "It's been nice to go out there and kind of know where I'm playing, but if down the stretch we need to move me to the outfield or anywhere, I'm fine with that."
Plouffe went on a similar offensive tear for Triple-A Rochester early last season, hitting 15 home runs over a two-month stretch and posting an International League-high OPS over 1.000.
"I'm just seeing the ball well and not chasing pitches. Like I said before, it's all about getting into those hitters counts and not missing your pitch."
Over the last month, Plouffe isn't missing that pitch very often.