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Matt Wallner thought about the biggest difference between the way he struggled at the start of the Twins season and the way he's torn up Class AAA pitching this month.

He asked, after leaving the batting cage Friday, what time it was.

It was 2:55 p.m., a little more than four hours before first pitch at CHS Field.

"That was like 15-20 minutes [in the batting cage] right there," Wallner said. "Two months ago, it would have been at least an hour. Too much."

Wallner always carried a reputation for spending a ton of time working on his swing and study opposing pitchers. The key to becoming the St. Paul Saints' hottest hitter is learning to dial it back.

In June, he has 11 homers, 25 RBI and 22 runs in 18 games. Statcast defines a hard-hit ball as a 95-mph exit velocity. Wallner is averaging a 94-mph exit velocity on balls he puts into play. He's batting .333 with a .400 on-base percentage and a 1.190 OPS.

"It may have been too much work in the beginning and counterproductive," said Wallner, 26. "I love hitting, so it kind of runs into a problem there because I'll do it all day. I think going forward, I don't need to go down that rabbit hole anymore of just hitting too much. Just trying to keep it simple."

The Twins demoted Wallner after he totaled two hits —a double and a home run (off a position player) — in his first 33 plate appearances with three walks and 17 strikeouts. He no longer looked like the same guy who hammered righthanded pitching last year, earning a start in four of the club's six postseason games.

The Forest Lake native and former Southern Mississippi star didn't fare much better during his first month in the minor leagues. Any time he showed a glimpse of an upswing, he sank into another slump. In his first 33 games at Class AAA, he hit .183 with five homers and 20 RBI in 126 at-bats while compiling 16 walks, 53 strikeouts and a .274 on-base percentage.

"I was trying something every day," Wallner said. "I was OK with struggling. I just wanted to get back to feeling good. Eventually, I just needed to slow down and get back to simplicity. It took literally a month and a half, but the last three, four weeks, I feel good."

A turning point, Wallner said, was a series in Rochester, N.Y., in the last week of May. Statistically, it looks obvious. He hit four homers and three doubles in seven games. But it was the first time all year he stepped into the batter's box with confidence.

"I feel like I was stressing to get one hit a day," said Wallner, who has 18 home runs in 58 games with the Saints. "That's not the player I am. I can go out there and get plenty of hits. It just seemed hard to get a hit every day. It was a struggle. Now, I'm like, OK, get a hit every at-bat. You're not going to, but I feel like I can."

There were times in the first two months of the season where he tried to fool himself into thinking his swing was in a good place. There were a few good games mixed in there, but Wallner says, "It was bad — it was still bad."

"Even when I felt good in the beginning, it wasn't my swing," he said. "I was just having to hit everything the other way. Now I feel good. Now I feel like I can hit to all fields."

There are areas the Twins want to continue to see improvements. Despite his red-hot June, Wallner is striking out in 32% of his plate appearances. The Twins recalled Austin Martin earlier this month when Alex Kirilloff was placed on the 10-day injured list, a move that left the club a little light on lefthanded bats.

After a long search, though, Wallner finally feels like himself again.

"I've always started slow, but this [slump] felt especially long," Wallner said. "This is probably as long as it gets and hopefully as long as it will ever get."