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.

Aaron Hicks named center fielder

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 24, 2013 - 4:29 PM

It's not a surprise, but it's official.

Aaron Hicks was told by manager Ron Gardenhire on Sunday that he will be the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the 2013 Twins. It comes after Hicks went 4-for-4 on Sunday in a 14-5 victory over Toronto, lifting his batting average to .350.

``He seems like he should be able to handle it,'' said Justin Morneau, who's been very impressed with Hicks' spring. ``He needs to keep working hard. He's fast, something you need out of a leadoff hitter. Someone with a good approach. It seems like he's learned to be a leadoff hitter. It's fun to watch.''

Hicks won over a club that didn't know where their offense was headed following the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere. He showed the patience that was a benchmark of his minor league career while looking to drive pitches when possible. His first three hits on Sunday all came with two strikes.

What's really impressive that the kid won the job in his first major league spring training camp.

``It feels great,'' he said. ``It's everything I've been working hard for ever since I been playing baseball so it just feels really good to be named centerfielder.

``I came here to compete for a job. I came here to get the experience of just being up here in my first big league camp. I feel like I'm trying to do the best I can to impress. I feel like I had a great spring training and I did everything I needed to win the job,''


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