La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Hicks hits three home runs for Twins

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 7, 2013 - 12:36 PM

Update: Twins center field hopeful Aaron Hicks hit three home runs in his first four at-bats in Thursday's exhibition game against the Phillies, including a leadoff homer to left against Cliff Lee.

The Twins trailed 6-5 after seven innings.

Hicks is competing with Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson for the starting center field job, and is batting .385 with four home runs during spring training.

He also homered in the fifth and seventh innings today.

Come back to later today for more on Hicks' power display.


I'm up in Clearwater for the Twins-Phillies showdown while Phil Miller takes it easy in Fort Myers with Twins-Red Sox.

Good pitching matchup here as Twins righthander Kyle Gibson faces Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee. Gibson gets to face some of the Phillies

Aaron Hicks is on the trip here as he continues to impress manager Ron Gardenhire and the coaching staff. The former first round pick is putting himself in position to make the jump from Class AA New Britain to the majors. Gardenhire has assurances from GM Terry Ryan that he could take Hicks north if he earned the spot, and Hicks has played the best of the candidates to this point.

Are the Twins serious about bringing Hicks north, or will they become conservative and have him start the season at Class AAA Rochester?

Keep in mind that the Twins have promoted players from Class AA straight to the majors before, including:

Brad Radke - pitched with Twins for entire career.

Eric Milton - part of the early 2000's revival

Cristian Guzman - ditto

Joe Mauer - Twins dealt Pierzynski for Nathan, Bonser and Liriano and watched Mauer reach stardom.

Twins GM Terry Ryan reminded me that Chuck Knoblauch is in that group too.

So it could happen this spring.

UPDATE: Hicks homers for the second straight day as I try to post this. That's three homers this week.

James Beresford has returned from World Baseball Classic duty in Taiwan with Australia and was rewarded with a bus ride to Clearwater. Ouch.


1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Brian Dozier, 2B
3. Mark Sobolewski, 3B
4. Brian Dinkelman, RF
5. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
6. Dan Rohlfing, 1B
7. Josmil Pinto, DH
8. Chris Herrmann, C
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

Pitching: Kyle Gibson, RHP


1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Michael Young, 3B
6. Domonic Brown, LF
7. Darin Ruf, DH
8. John Mayberry, RF
9. Erik Kratz, C

Pitching: Cliff Lee, LHP



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