The Twins are trying to get Aaron Hicks’ immense talent out of him. Members of the coaching staff have tried to get through to him. Now the task has been kicked upstairs.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire spoke with Hicks on Tuesday about his .160 batting average. The basic message: Get it in gear.
“We had a long talk, just about baseball, about picking it up, numbers,” Gardenhire said. “This game, no matter how we try to say it, developing at the major league level, whatever you want to try to do here, it is still about numbers. To hit .160, .170, those don’t last in the big leagues.”
Part of the problem, Gardenhire said, is Hicks’ preparation.
“He needs to start studying the game a little more,” Gardenhire said, “studying the pitchers a little bit more, a little extra work in the outfield, doing drills and everything. Your whole game, the way you come to the ballpark and your approach to the game.”
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony went further, saying Hicks has shown up at the park not knowing who that day’s starting pitcher is.
“I think he gets preoccupied with some things about his game,” Antony said. “It’s not that he’s distracted by other things. I think it’s more a matter of thinking about what he’s going to do, but I don’t think he always has a plan — how that guy is going to pitch him, how he’s going to be prepared for it.”
Hicks was productive the first week of the regular season but finished April batting .188. This is after batting .192 last season and spending the offseason working with Rod Carew.
Hicks came off the disabled list Friday after a concussion. In many cases, he would have been sent down to the minors for a few games, but the Twins needed a center fielder. Hicks probably needs more than a few days at Class AAA Rochester, but Sam Fuld is out indefinitely because of a concussion. The same thing happened last year when Hicks was struggling and Darin Mastroianni, the logical replacement, was injured for most of the season.
So Hicks is going to have to figure out things while staying with the Twins. Gardenhire said Hicks took early batting practice Wednesday, did some outfield work and hit in the cage.
“You can’t just throw your talent out of the field and say, ‘I can do this,’ ” Gardenhire said. “We’ll see what happens.”
The challenge has been issued.
“He’s trying,” Antony said. “He’s working. He’s doing the things he needs to. He’s talking to the coaches. He hears them. He’s trying to do the things they tell him are important.”
• Oswaldo Arcia was reinstated from his rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Rochester but officially optioned to the Red Wings. Arcia is batting .308 at Rochester and hit a homer Tuesday. But Gardenhire values the opinion of Red Wings manager Gene Glynn, and he has told Gardenhire that Arcia is not quite ready.
Antony saw Arcia play last week and said he got hits, but they weren’t hit hard.
• Josh Willingham (left wrist) will join Arcia soon. Willingham took batting practice with the team before Wednesday’s game and is set to join the Red Wings on Friday for a rehabilitation assignment.
• Righthander Mike Pelfrey (groin) is at Rochester and is the scheduled starter Friday as he begins his rehab assignment.
• Gardenhire wants to go to a 12-man pitching staff before next week’s interleague road trip to San Diego and San Francisco.