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Updated: May 31st, 2013 5:19pm
Twins' Gardenhire not worried about Justin Morneau's lack of home runs

Twins' Gardenhire not worried about Justin Morneau's lack of home runs

by Nate Sandell
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A ho-hum late April and early May has given way to a solid few weeks for Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.

In 22 games since May 7, Morneau has posted a .348 batting average (.430 slugging percentage), with 17 of his 34 RBIs this season.

But Morneau's once prominent display of power has been markedly absent. He has only two home runs on the year, with his last homer coming on April 28 against Texas.

Given the 32-year-old's other contributions at the plate recently, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire recognizes the issue of Morneau's sorely lagging power numbers, but remains unconcerned.

"You just got to sit there and live with it," Gardenhire said Friday in his weekly appearance on 1500 ESPN's Judd and Dubay show. "He's hitting the ball. He's getting big hits for us. He's driving in some runs. His average is good, but the ball is just not flying. He's not getting good lift on the ball, backspining them as well as he has in the past."

Morneau is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. The largely average numbers he has put up since 2011 have added increasing intrigue to the Twins' upcoming decision of whether or not to attempt to re-sign the first baseman.

Until then, Gardenhire insists Morneau's continued search for his home run stroke is a wait-and-see process

"He's strong. We know he can hit it a long way," Gardenhire said. "We watch him in batting practice do it. It's just in the game they are pitching him one way and he's having to stay on the ball, and that's kind of the result right now."

Hicks on the rise?

Rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks, who has battled with woeful inconsistency throughout the first two months of the season. has undergone a recent surge in production.

During the Twins' current four-game win streak, Hicks has put together a modest streak of his own, with hits in each of his last four games to bring his average up to a still lowly .168. In that stretch, he belted home runs in back to back games, including a powerful drive into the bullpen in center field Wednesday at Target Field from the left side of the plate.

"We were worried about that," Gardenhire said of Hicks' strength when hitting left-handed. "He looked like he wasn't driving the ball, but there's some mechanical things he's been working on and now he's starting to relax and get more confident. Him shooting the ball out into deep left center in Target (Field), that kind of got me. I was like, 'Wow. That was impressive.'"

Nate Sandell is a contributor to
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In this story: Ron Gardenhire, Justin Morneau