The Twins don’t plan to rush Aaron Hicks back from his rehabilitation assignment, manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday, even though they only have one center fielder on the active roster.
“Our goal is to let him get some at-bats. Let him get a few swings,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve got a little time here, and he needs swings right now.”
Hicks, leading off for Class AAA Rochester, went 0-for-4 during the Red Wings’ 4-2 loss at Indianapolis on Friday night. That brings Hicks’ total to 3-for-13 since joining the Red Wings, at a level he skipped in order to join the Twins this spring.
Clete Thomas went 2-for-5 with a home run Friday night and is hitting .300 filling in at center field since Hicks went on the disabled list June 10 because of a hamstring strain. Considering Hicks was hitting just .179 when he was hurt, Thomas has been more than adequate as a substitute.
Would the Twins allow Hicks to remain on a rehab assignment for a week or two, a way to help him build a little confidence after a disastrous April and May? It’s a question complicated by a lack of depth at the position; should something happen to Thomas, right fielder Chris Parmelee or infielder Eduardo Escobar might be pressed into service in an unfamiliar position.
Gardenhire said the real objective is to make sure Hicks’ injury doesn’t recur, and if he remains in Rochester for a few extra games, it’s just about his health.
“We want him to be healthy and swinging the bat good when he gets back up here,” Gardenhire said. “We’ll give him plenty of time.”
Pelfrey on track
Mike Pelfrey’s back pain has disappeared, and the righthander is eager to get back to work. He will get a chance this weekend.
The Twins have put Pelfrey on the normal cycle of preparation, and they will send him to Class A Cedar Rapids on Monday for a rehab start. If all goes well, Gardenhire said, “he’ll eventually get activated and probably make his next [major league] start next Saturday,” at Toronto.
Justin Morneau was standing in the Target Field batter’s box at 2:30 p.m. Friday, almost five hours before the game’s first pitch. With hitting coach Tom Brunansky offering tips, Morneau hit baseballs off a tee, working on getting the bat head through the strike zone quickly.
“It’s just been nice to get out there,” Morneau said of the early session, something he likes to do on a regular basis before regular batting practice begins at 4:30. “Earlier in the year, with the weather, we didn’t have a chance, home or road, to get out and do early work. I’ve been able to do that the past few days.”
Morneau is looking for ways to recover the power stroke that has deserted him so far this year. He is hitting plenty of home runs during BP, not that it means anything. “Everybody can hit at 5 p.m.,” he said with a shrug.
• The Twins officially signed fifth-round pick Aaron Slegers, a 6-foot-10 righthander from Indiana, and they paid a little extra for it. According to a Twins source, Slegers accepted the Twins’ offer of $380,000, or $30,000 more than the contract recommended by the commissioner’s office. Slegers will join rookie league Elizabethton this weekend.
• Wayne “Big Fella” Hattaway, a Twins employee since before the team moved to Minnesota in 1961, was hospitalized overnight after experiencing dizziness during Thursday’s game. “They did tests, MRIs, and he’s fine,” General Manager Terry Ryan said, and Hattaway, a clubhouse attendance for 20 years, was released Friday afternoon.