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

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 1st OT 3:48
Vancouver 5
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
UCLA 72
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

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