FORT MYERS, FLA. – Aaron Hicks returned to the lineup with authority Wednesday, hitting a home run on the second pitch he saw during the Twins’ 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Hammond Stadium.
A sore right elbow had kept Hicks out of the lineup since March 4, and the coaching staff was beginning to wonder when he would return and get back in the battle for center field. Well, Hicks is back.
“Stepped right out there, right back from Disneyland, and hit a homer,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Hicks, who grounded out in his second at-bat, went to Gardenhire on Wednesday to let him know he was ready to return to action.
“That was right,” Gardenhire said. “He was ready to get back in there. Trainers can tell me all they want; it’s better coming from a player.”
The Twins need someone to claim the center field job, which also could be the leadoff-hitting job. Hicks, 3-for-12 in four games, is the most talented option. But he also has to earn it, or the club will look harder at Alex Presley and Darin Mastroianni.
“I’m happy that I’m able to get out there and win a job,” Hicks said. “The more at-bats I get from here on out, the better. If I do well, the better my chances.”
Hicks and Chris Colabello homered for the Twins while Pedro Alvarez and Travis Ishikawa each hit two-run homers for the Pirates, Alvarez off Kevin Correia in the third and Ishikawa off Vance Worley in the sixth.
La VELLE E. NEAL III