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.

Twins postgame: Interesting day for Twins center fielders in Florida

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 7, 2013 - 6:06 PM


There's still a lot of baseball left to play in Florida, but Aaron Hicks can lock down the starting center field job as long as he doesn't go into a major tailspin.

And a tailspin is always possible with young players. You never know how they are going to react when the look around the final week of camp and realize that they might be headed north with the team.

Hicks, however, is showing no signs of tailing off. He's hitting, showing some power and playing fairly well in center field. He's made two known bad plays in the field, which shouldn't be enough to lose a job.

Meanwhile, Joe Benson struck out four times and dropped a fly ball in the other split-squad game. And Darin Mastroianni has missed a week with sore hamstring.

Thursday could be remembered as the day Hicks made the team, but a lot can happen between now and Opening Day.

Hicks, by the way, has hit 34 home runs in five minor league seasons,  13 last season at Class AA New Britain. He's been considered a player who could develop power as he gains experience. I wouldn't start putting 20-25 homers next to his name - but he definitely has filled out over the last couple years and he's more confident in his left-handed swing.

 

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