While the old cliche is that some players just need a kick in the pants to get them started, perhaps all Justin Morneau needed was a hit in the nose.
Just like the Twins, Morneau started off the season struggling. But the 2006 American League MVP seemed to have picked up where he left off, after a throw from Nick Punto bounced off the turf and broke Morneau's nose on May 12.
On Monday, Morneau was named the Sharp Presents the American League Player of the Month for May.
The first baseman hit .380 over the course of the month to raise his batting average to .283, while slugging an impressive .667. Morneau had a 10-game hit streak stretching from May 13-27.
Morneau credits his improving performance to experience and being able to make adjustments at the plate.
"The more at-bats you get off a guy, you learn what he's trying to do and you try and make adjustments," Morneau said.
He added 10 home runs and 29 RBIs to his season totals of 16 home runs and 44 RBIs. Entering Monday's action, he ranked second in the AL in home runs.
Morneau had an especially productive day on May 29 when the Twins won the third game of their series against the division-rival White Sox to complete a sweep. Morneau went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a two-run home run and four RBIs.
Morneau, never one to shine the spotlight on himself, is more interested in his team getting back on path than garnering individual accolades. With Morneau's help, the Twins finished May by winning seven of their final eight games. Entering Monday, they currently sat in third place in the competitive AL Central, six games behind the division-leading Indians and 3 1/2 games behind the Tigers.
"We feel pretty good right now," Morneau said. "It doesn't matter if we're down by two or up by two, we feel like somehow we're going to find a way to win the game."
Boston's Kevin Youklis finished second in the voting to Morneau. Mark Teixeira of the Rangers, Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield of the Tigers, Ichiro Suzuki or the Mariners, Orlando Cabrera of the Angels and Brian Roberts of the Orioles also received votes.
This is Morneau's first career AL Player of the Month Award. Sharp, the presenting sponsor of the AL Player of the Month Award, will present Morneau with an LC-52D92U 52" Sharp LCD-TV. Sharp is the "Official High-Definition Television of Major League Baseball." Morneau will also receive a specially designed trophy to commemorate the honor.
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.