ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Outfielder Aaron Hicks will conduct the search for his missing game at Class AA New Britain.
Hicks, who already was with the Rock Cats on a rehabilitation assignment, was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, but the Twins decided to keep him at New Britain and optioned him there. Hicks has recovered from a right shoulder injury that made it difficult for him to throw.
“It’s getting your mind right and focusing on how to get better as a player, get back to doing what he was doing,’’ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “and that’s working both sides of the plate and doing what he’s done his whole career.’’
New Britain is the place where Hicks last had success at the plate. In 2012, he batted .286 there with 13 homers, 61 RBI, 21 doubles, 11 triples and a .384 on-base percentage. Brad Steil, Twins director of minor leagues, said he remembers Hicks hitting lefthanders and righthanders equally well by the end of the year. Hicks, in fact, hit .283 against lefthanders and .287 against righthanders that year, although his slugging percentage was only .434 against righties as opposed to .522 against lefties.
The Twins decided to give Hicks a chance to open the 2013 season in center field in the majors. Since then, he has a .194 batting average in 129 major league games. He gave up batting righthanded at the beginning of June, but last week, while on the rehab assignment, told the Twins he was going back to switch-hitting.
“He’ll just continue to work on his swing from the left side,’’ Steil said. “I think he needs to be more aggressive, and that comes from confidence. Now being back down in New Britain maybe he can start working on getting his confidence back.’’
In six rehab games, Hicks batted .238 with two RBI. Sam Fuld and Danny Santana will continue to get starts in center while Hicks is trying to rebound.
“He’s a really good talent,’’ Gardenhire said, “and I think we’re all trying to find how to get everything out of him.’’
Instead of playing center field, Hicks will play all three outfield positions at New Britain. That makes sense because top prospect Byron Buxton plays center field and could be on the radar sometime next season.
May is a Future Star
Teams can’t have more than two players on the All-Star Futures Game roster — unless someone gets injured or is in the majors.
And that’s how Class AAA Rochester righthander Trevor May was added to the U.S. roster for the July 13 game at Target Field. May, 8-4 at Rochester with a 2.94 RRA, was summoned after the Cardinals called up lefthander Marco Gonzales.
“I think our fans want to see him,’’ Gardenhire said of May. “They have been yelling for him to come to the big leagues anyway. So he’s coming to Minnesota. It will be a good feeling for him to be part of that game. I’m sure we’ll see him shortly after that, hopefully, if he keeps pitching like he is.’’
May joins Twins prospects Kennys Vargas and Jose Berrios in the game.
The Twins were impressed with Samuel Deduno, who pitched four scoreless innings of relief in an 8-6 loss to the Angels on Tuesday. Deduno looked more comfortable and threw more freely and easier than he did in recent starts before being pulled from the rotation.
“That was nice to see,’’ Gardenhire said. “He had a couple struggles on the road. So for him to come out take off like he did and locate the baseball and use the breaking ball, he kept the game right where it was at. It was huge for us and for him. Gets his confidence going in the right direction. That was a big step for him.’’