Aaron Hicks tried to play despite a sore left hamstring, tried to heal himself through force of will. That lasted one batter.
Now he’ll have a couple of weeks to heal.
Hicks, the Twins’ rookie center fielder, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday, one day after injuring himself while stretching to reach first base to beat out an infield hit during the Twins’ 5-4 loss Sunday night to Washington. The Twins recalled Oswaldo Arcia from Class AAA Rochester, though Hicks’ playing time figures to fall to Clete Thomas for the time being.
Hicks jogged to center field shortly after being injured, but was removed during a fifth-inning rain delay one batter later. “I was just trying to get out there and continue playing the game, trying to stay on the field,” Hicks said. But when the game was delayed, he mentioned that his hamstring hurt, “and they said, ‘Go ice it.’ ”
The move leaves the Twins without both of their Opening Day center fielders, since backup Wilkin Ramirez is also on the disabled list because of concussion symptoms. Thomas, called up last Monday, is the lone natural center fielder on the roster, having played more than 600 minor league games there, though Chris Parmelee played the position for one inning earlier this season, and Eduardo Escobar is considered a fill-in outfielder when necessary. Arcia has also played center field, though not regularly since 2011.
Hicks was batting .179 this season, and his six home runs are tied for third most on the Twins. His offense had been improving lately; Hicks was batting .267 with three home runs over his past 17 games.
Arcia batted .255 with four home runs in a 30-game stint with the Twins earlier this season, and was hitting .284 with six home runs at Class AAA Rochester.
Righthanded pitcher Ryan Pressly also was removed from Sunday’s doubleheader because of an injury, but after an examination of his right triceps Monday, a Twins spokesman said, the team believes he’s OK and no disabled-list time will be required.
To the already prodigious list of extraordinary talents Byron Buxton possesses, we can now add one more: timing.
The 19-year-old Cedar Rapids phenom racked up three hits, falling a home run short of a cycle, knocked in three runs, and made a pair of spectacular catches Monday — and did it before the biggest audience he’s likely to have in the minor leagues. Fox Sports North broadcast the Kernals’ 6-2 victory over Kane County back to Minneapolis, giving Twins fans a sneak preview of a player they figure to be cheering for in 2016 or so.
Also in the crowd at Veterans Memorial Stadium: J.J. Cooper, an editor and minor-league expert at Baseball America magazine — and a new member of Buxton’s fan club.
“It was fun. He’s so much fun to watch,” Cooper said. “It’s amazing how many different things one player can show in one game. You saw defense, you saw him hit the ball hard, you saw the speed. He really put on a show.”
Well, he got picked off once, too. But the defense was highlight-reel stuff. Kane County’s Jeimer Candelario lined a drive into the left-center gap for what looked like a double, but Buxton ran it down.
“The speed was extraordinary,” Cooper said.
But the second play was better, play-of-the-year stuff: Buxton broke back for a David Bote smash into the deepest part of the park. Buxton got there and dived, his back to the plate, onto the warning track.
“Right in front of the 407 sign — that’s an awful lot of range into the power alley,” Cooper said. “It’s as good a catch as you’ll see at any level.”
Speaking of levels, the baseball writer doesn’t expect Buxton, now hitting .350 with 29 extra-base hits, to stay at this one much longer.
“I’m not a scout, but it’s hard to imagine how much more there is for him at [low Class A]. It’s not just that he has more tools, but that he’s more advanced than everyone else,” Cooper said. “He’s not seeing anything that surprises him. There’s no aspect to his game where you say, ‘He has some catching up to do.’ ”
Most impressive about the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft?
“I have yet to see him swing at a bad pitch,” Cooper said. “He controls the strike zone like very few players that age.”
Cooper covered Andruw Jones, a 10-time Gold Glover and 434-home run hitter, when he was at Class A, and “that was fun every night,” he said. “This was like that — plus some.”