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MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - INSIDE PITCH
MINNEAPOLIS -- In his first season with the Minnesota Twins, catcher Kurt Suzuki is in the midst of a career season. Just past the halfway mark, it's possible Suzuki has been the Twins' most valuable player.
After going 1-for-4 Thursday in the series opener against the New York Yankees, Suzuki is hitting .303 this season, nearly 50 points higher than his career average. Suzuki said it's been a labor of love, putting in a lot of time with former Twins legends, now coaches, hitting coach Tom Brunansky and Paul Molitor.
"I've been working really hard with Brunansky in the cage working on approach, he always has good information for me every single day," Suzuki said. "Talking to (Molitor) a lot, just about certain things about hitting and what he's been through and those three guys have really helped me a lot and they deserve a lot of the credit.
"It's just everybody's helping out a lot and it's nice to see all the hard work pay off a little bit."
With the All-Star Game slated for Target Field in less than two weeks, Suzuki, at least statistically, seems like a good candidate to reach his first career Mid-Summer Classic. Entering Thursday, Suzuki ranked second among American League catchers in hits (72), doubles (15), first in batting average (.304) and on-base percentage (.362), and fourth in RBIs (33). Ranked fourth in the fan voting for catcher, Suzuki won't start the game. But with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire serving on the A.L. coaching staff, Suzuki will have a big supporter with on his side.
"His name is going to be mentioned," Gardenhire said. "It's needs. How many catchers are they going to need in that game? We'll see."
Gardenhire especially admires Suzuki's commitment to the catching aspect of the position.
"Every day he prepares, watches videos, understands what hitters are trying to do. Runs the meetings," Gardenhire said. "When a pitcher gives up a hit or has a bad game, he feels worse about that than if he's not getting a hit."
Suzuki has also brought an energy and a toughness to the position that was needed after six-time All-Star Joe Mauer departed the position for first base following an injury-riddled season last year.
"He plays. He gets after it. He tried to run through a damn pipe the other day," Gardenhire said of a play on a foul ball where Suzuki ran into a safety barrier in front of a camera well. "He made some kind of grunt when he hit it too. "He said that hurt in a lot of different languages."
Being a catcher on a new team, Suzuki said he's been able to find a rhythm with a completely new pitching staff, one which has been better over the last several weeks after a shaky first month.
"It's still going, it's still a work in progress. It's not going to be overnight, it's not going to be a month, two months. Every single time you go out there you're going to learn something new," Suzuki said. "Things are going in the right direction right now, everybody is throwing the ball really well and we've just got to keep it going. But as far as learning each pitcher, I feel I'm good where I'm at right now, but at the same time, every single time I go out there I try to learn a little bit more about each guy every day."
MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost two
NEXT: Yankees (RHP Chase Whitley, 3-2, 4.70 ERA) at Twins (RHP Kyle Gibson, 7-6, 3.77 ERA)
--1B Chris Parmelee doubled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to a career-long 13 games. During the streak, Parmelee is hitting .440 with five doubles, one home run and three RBIs. Parmelee had only one hit Thursday, but still has a multi-hit game in five of his last seven outings.
--RHP Phil Hughes allowed seven runs over 6 1/3 innings Thursday, dropping to 8-5 this season. It was the third straight game where Hughes has allowed at least five earned runs and was his third loss in his last four starts. After going 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA in the month of May, Hughes took a step backward in June, going 3-3 with a 4.10 ERA in June. After seeing his season ERA bottom out at 3.09 following his June 17 start against Boston, Hughes' mark has ballooned to 3.95.
--2B Brian Dozier went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles in his first two at-bats Thursday, snapping an 0-for-17 skid at the plate. The multi-hit game was his first since June 24, giving him 18 on the season -- second-best on the team.
--C Kurt Suzuki went 1-for-4 Thursday with his 16th double of the season, third-most on the team. He has a hit in three straight games overall and 10 in a row at Target Field.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The one big mistake of the game was to Beltran. The other at-bats, I stayed hard-in on him but I figured I try to get a ground-ball double play right there and throw the two-seamer. It just caught too much of the plate."" --Twins RHP Phil Hughes said about the at-bat against Yankees DH Carlos Beltran in a 7-4 loss to New York on Thursday.
MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - ROSTER REPORT
--1B Joe Mauer (right oblique strain) went on the 15-day disabled list July 2.
--SS Danny Santana (deep bone bruise in left knee) went on the 15-day disabled list June 27.
--RHP Mike Pelfrey (strained left groin, right elbow surgery in June 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 2, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 19. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on May 16. He returned from Rochester on May 28 after experiencing elbow soreness. He underwent surgery June 10 to clean up scar tissue in his right elbow that was causing pressure on his ulnar nerve. He is expected to be out until at least mid-August.
RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Kyle Gibson
RHP Yohan Pino
LHP Glen Perkins (closer)
LHP Caleb Thielbar
RHP Anthony Swarzak
LHP Brian Duensing
RHP Casey Fien
RHP Jared Burton
RHP Matt Guerrier
RHP Sam Deduno
1B Chris Parmelee
2B Brian Dozier
SS Eduardo Nunez
3B Trevor Plouffe
DH Kendrys Morales
INF Eduardo Escobar
LF Josh Willingham
CF Sam Fuld
RF Oswaldo Arcia
OF/INF Chris Colabello