Progress for Twins rookie Hicks comes in small steps

Despite his .044 average, the Twins don’t plan on sending him down any time soon.


Aaron Hicks is hitless in his past 19 at-bats, but he did draw three walks in two games against the Angels and scored a run after each walk.

Photo: File photo by BRIAN PETERSON • ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– When Aaron Hicks is in center field, he is used to looking in front of him and seeing the sky. Now he sees the second, and third, decks of stadiums.

The largest media horde he faced a year ago at Class AA New Britain, he said, was four people. He has had more than 20 at his clubhouse stall at times this season.

“I’m definitely seeing things you don’t see in the minor leagues,” Hicks said. “Just everything in general.”

The scoreboard at Target Field makes his .044 batting average look quite clear, and he has had to answer several variations of the same question before and after games: Is the slump getting to you, kid?

“No, not really,” he said. “This is baseball. It’s what I do for a living, but it’s not who I am. I mean, baseball is everything, but at the end of the day you have to go home and enjoy living. Life is not guaranteed.”

It’s become a curious case of a rookie center fielder dealing with a jump directly from Class AA, and a club that doesn’t want to see him lose his confidence. But team officials have discussed several options, including sending him back down to the minors. Hicks’ game is patterned for the top of the batting order, but he is 2-for-45 this season with six walks and 20 strikeouts.

For now, the Twins will only drop him down from the leadoff spot. He batted eighth Tuesday against the Angels and was set to bat eighth Wednesday before that game was rained out. The Twins have arrived in Chicago for a weekend series against the White Sox, and Hicks was expected to bat in the bottom third of the order again, but Friday night’s game was postponed because of cold weather.

When Hicks returns to the lineup Saturday — weather permitting — he will have had a lot of time to clear his mind and focus on having good at-bats.

“I’m barely missing pitches,” Hicks said. “In the spring, I wasn’t missing pitches. Now I am missing them and getting in some tough counts and then facing some pretty good pitchers.”

Coach has been there

First-year Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky agreed with Hicks’ self-assessment. The two have some things in common. Hicks was the 14th overall pick in 2008, Brunansky was the 14th overall pick in 1978. They both struggled mightily in their first trip to the majors. Brunansky actually was sent down by the Angels after batting .152 in 11 games. So he understands what Hicks is going through.

The two have worked on laying off breaking pitches, because Hicks has routinely fallen behind in the count and then whiffed on a breaking pitch outside the strike zone. Brunansky has seen progress.

“I’m seeing things that he was doing earlier that he’s not doing now,” Brunansky said. “He’s more aware of what we’re trying to get him doing to get back to who he is. We have not changed anything in his swing. It’s not a mechanical issue. It’s the visual issue of seeing it and trusting what you see and attack what you see.”

The Twins staff is encouraged by the most recent results; Hicks drew a walk Monday and two Tuesday without striking out in either game, largely because he laid off pitches he couldn’t hit. Now it’s time for him to convert the good at-bats into hits, rather than walks.

The team is committed to playing him — especially since he’s now the only natural center fielder on the roster with Darin Mastroianni on the disabled list.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire believes Hicks, in the long run, is better off figuring things out in the major leagues rather than having to take a step back to the minors.

“There’s been lots of players who have had to go down to the minors,” Gardenhire said. “Our preference is for him to get going up here and let’s quit worrying about it. There’s issues, we’ve seen it. And we’re trying to straighten them out now.

“Talking with Brunansky, he wants to work with this kid. He had him out there early and did some things with him and believes he can get him right. You know what? I’m with Tom. We’ll see what happens.”


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 85 4th Qtr 6:25
Cleveland 94
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 1 1st Prd 13:27
Team Foligno 1
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 41 2nd Half 7:35
Illinois State 46
Louisville 52 2nd Half 9:44
Pittsburgh 39
UMBC 22 2nd Half
Albany 35
Niagara 18 1st Half 7:40
Iona 30
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Washington 7:30 PM
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 52 2nd Half 11:50
Washington St 40
Tulane 41 2nd Half 5:30
South Florida 62
(14) Kentucky 56 2nd Half 12:05
Missouri 50
(9) Oregon State 51 2nd Half 8:10
(13) Arizona State 34
Vermont 31 2nd Half
UMass Lowell 37
Iowa State 29 2nd Half
(8) Texas 36
Southern Ill 29 2nd Half
Wichita State 43
(15) Duke 19 1st Half 9:26
(12) North Carolina 11
Miami-Florida 20 1st Half 7:32
(4) Louisville 14
(21) Minnesota 5 1st Half 12:54
(25) Rutgers 14
California 6:00 PM
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters