Aaron Hicks planned to have dinner with his family Monday night. He expected to hear a few jokes at his expense.
“They’re probably going to start laughing at me,” he said.
Hopefully, Hicks laughed along with them, too. That might be the best medicine for a tough first day at the office on Monday.
Hicks’ major league debut didn’t unfold as he envisioned it. He struck out in his first three at-bats and finished 0-for-4 in the Twins’ 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Target Field.
“It’s definitely a learning experience,” he said.
Hicks, 23, won the starting center field job in spring training and became the first Twins rookie to make his debut on Opening Day since Joe Mauer in 2004. (Technically, Tsuyoshi Nishioka made his debut in the 2011 opener, but his experience in Japan is an extenuating circumstance.)
In any event, the organization views Hicks as its long-term answer in center field, and he’ll have plenty of highlights along the way. Game 1, he admitted, was kind of a blur. It’s a day he won’t forget, though.
Hicks joined his father and older brother — Joe Sr. and Joe Jr. — at a downtown coffee shop a few blocks from Target Field. The three sat and talked about the day and normal family things. The place bustled with customers, many dressed in Twins apparel.
Aaron got a good night’s sleep and awoke around 8:30 a.m. He acted remarkably calm for such a big occasion.
“He doesn’t really show any nerves,” Joe Sr. said. “He’s just his normal old self.”
On the other hand, Joe Jr. was a nervous wreck. He woke up his dad at 1:30 a.m., 3 a.m. and again at 5 a.m.
“I told my brother don’t worry about being anxious and nervous because I’ve got you covered on that,” he said.
As they finished their conversation and Aaron got up to leave for the ballpark, Joe Jr. gave his brother a hug.
“Do your thing,” he told him.
Hicks finished early batting practice at the indoor cages and stopped at his locker for a quick uniform change before warmups. He looked comfortable, but he’s still learning his way around his new home.
“I’m still learning where the showers are and all the training rooms,” he said. “You’ve got to walk around a little more to find the kitchen or just anything.”