Twins' Hicks goes back to basics to regain prospect form

After a rough rookie season, Aaron Hicks is aiming to keep it simple in 2014.

Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who has taken young Aaron Hicks under his wing, was asked how the mentorship went during the offseason.

“Did he tell you that I chewed him out?” Carew said.

No, but go on.

“I called him and I chewed him out,” Carew said. “I just told him, ‘We talked about it last spring. Don’t try to get there and do too much. Just get your feet wet and do what you are doing. The next thing I know, I’m watching you on TV and you are trying to hit the ball nine miles. I’ll be on you all spring.’ ”

One of the keys to the Twins’ improvement this season will be how Hicks, their first-round pick in 2008, rebounds after a rough and tumble rookie season that saw him bat .192 with eight home runs and 27 RBI in 81 games. Known for good plate discipline as he rose through the minor leagues, Hicks walked only 24 times while striking out 84. That led to a ticket to Class AAA Rochester on Aug. 1.

“It seemed like everything I swung at wasn’t a good pitch and everything I took was a strike,” Hicks said.

So it was back to class with Carew.

Hicks spent the offseason driving from his home in Long Beach, Calif., to meet with Carew at San Juan Capistrano. There, they worked in the cage on his swing and approach.

“Trying to get him back to where he was last spring,” Carew said.

Last spring, Hicks batted .370 with four homers — three coming in one game against Philadelphia — to make the decision to bring him north an easy one. This year, Hicks has to earn his way onto the Opening Day roster, and that is not a lock.

The Twins are prepared to look at Alex Presley and Darin Mastroianni in center if Hicks has a poor spring. If Hicks, 24, wins the job and is productive, it will be a huge relief to a Twins team that needs his range and arm in center and his switch-hitting ability at the plate.

The Twins know he has the ability. He flashed it May 13 when he hit two home runs and stole a home run from White Sox slugger Adam Dunn. He flashed it again July 14 when he crushed a three-run homer off Yankees ace CC Sabathia. But Hicks has to bring his tools to the field more consistently.

Even defensively, there were some balls he pulled up on last season that he could have made a play on. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire ripped into him during a May 7 game in Boston when Hicks nonchalantly flipped a ball back into the infield after catching a sinking fly ball. It was a rough baptism. Now he has to prove he is a better man for going through it.

“You know what, it was a great learning experience for him,” Gardenhire said. “Now we move past that, we learn from that and we go right to this year and let him have some fun, get out there and play baseball. We’ll see where we’re at the end of spring training.”

With Oswaldo Arcia showing promise last season and megaprospect Byron Buxton moving through the system, the Twins outfield of the near-future could be forming.

“I definitely feel a lot more confident,” Hicks said. “I’m more ready. The fact that I know what it’s like to be in the big leagues and what you need to do on a daily basis to be successful. I figure that if I do what I need to do I’ll be fine.”

One thing he needs to do is listen to Carew and apply his teachings.

“He’s got so much talent,” Carew said. “I said, ‘People expect a lot of you because of what they hear but don’t go to people’s expectations. Stay with your expectations. Let things creep before you walk.’ He wanted to jump out there and do things instead of staying within himself. It’s a typical young player.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
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
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
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
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
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 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close