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 the hot topic, even in game he's not playing

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: March 7, 2013 - 4:51 PM

The Twins' game wasn't going well in Hammond Stadium, but in the dugout, the players were following along with a game that was far more intriguing.

"We heard -- it's awesome," split-squad manager Terry Steinbach said of news that Aaron Hicks had homered three times and driving in six runs in Clearwater. "The clubhouse kids kind of keep us in the loop, especially when something like that happens. It's a real positive note, good to hear."

Steinbach said he's been impressed with how well the 23-year-old prospect fits in with the Twins' veterans. "Some people can come in and be tentative and shy," Steinbach said. "So far, he's fitting in well, personality-wise."

Then there's his play, which is more than just his hitting. The former catcher noted how quickly Hicks gets moving toward the ball in center field, and how quickly he tracks it down. "He's been making plays," Steinbach said. "And obviously today, his bat speaks for itself. The at-bats we've seen, he's handling himself so well at the plate."

The Twins who stayed behind on Thursday had it much more difficult, though Eduardo Escobar, a late addition to the lineup when Chris Parmelee felt soreness in his groin, collected three hits, and Trevor Plouffe hiked his spring batting average to .417 with a pair of singles. But except for a four-run outburst against projected Boston closer Joel Hanrahan -- he allowed four straight sharply hit singles and a walk -- the Twins' offense didn't amount to much.

They'll get another chance tomorrow, when the teams meet again at JetBlue Park. This time, Hicks will be in Minnesota's lineup.

One more note: P.J. Walters allowed one hit in two innings and struck out two. That's Walters' third scoreless outing, amounting to five innings, of the spring. "He's been healthy, and he's been outstanding every time out," pitching coach Rick Anderson said of the 28-next-week righthander.
 

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