Trevor Plouffe 'rediscovered baseball' while tearing up Triple-A ranks
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"Plouffey!" the Minnesota Twins' manager yelled. "C'mon Plouffe! We've got to go work!"
Plouffe sheepishly darted into the dugout, grabbed his first baseman's mitt and got back into the field.
Such is life in the 25-year-old shortstop's latest chance with the Twins.
This one comes as a utility man whose newfound versatility, combined with a torrid hitting clip at Triple-A Rochester, brought Plouffe back to the majors little more than a month after a slumping bat and erratic play in the field sent him down.
"At first, I thought it might take away from it," Plouffe said of moving to the outfield, then playing some first base in recent weeks with the Red Wings.
"But when we started to move around a little bit, I started having a little bit of fun out there. It was kind of like I rediscovered baseball, if you will. It was exciting. I didn't know where I was going to play.
"Just being able to go out there and compete -- it was really like I was watching other games, because it really wasn't like second nature for me anymore."
It showed at that plate, too. By the time the Twins recalled Plouffe on Sunday, he was hitting .313/.384/.635 at Rochester with 15 home runs and 33 RBIs.
"I think I just relaxed a little bit," Plouffe said. "I took my preparation really seriously. I definitely wanted to come back up. It was one of those things where I knew that was the only thing that was in my control, was to go out there and play well. I worked hard, and the numbers just kind of came after that."
Even Gardenhire -- who became increasingly critical of Plouffe as his average dipped to .200 and he committed three errors in 15 games with the Twins in May and June -- noticed the difference enough to stump publicly for Plouffe to get another chance.
Plouffe was in the lineup for Thursday's series opener against the Kansas City Royals, moved from first base to designated hitter when Jim Thome (sprained left toe) was scratched.
"He's pretty confident right now," Gardenhire said. "He's been swinging good, playing good. I think he's figured a few things out, that it takes a lot of hard work, and one thing when he comes up here, he's not really pumped up about the way he's playing baseball, kind of fighting everything. ... Hopefully, it's kind of the opposite now. He's got his confidence back, and that's a big part of baseball, confidence."