FORT MYERS, Fla. — Aaron Hicks has been spending each morning in the batting cage, working on his swing with Tim Doherty, the Rochester Red Wings’ hitting coach.
But during his down time in the clubhouse, I’ve noticed Hicks crossing the clubhouse and sitting down next to a pitcher, usually one of the new guys on the roster. Each time, he spends 20 minutes or so chatting with someone different.
Mining for some extra info? Discussing pitch selection?
“No, we’re usually talking about golf,” Hicks said.
But that’s a good thing, too. Hicks said the whole point of his sit-downs is to bond with his teammates, to learn who these guys are. Pitchers and hitters tend to segregate themselves in clubhouses — it’s only natural, since they have different schedules and different workouts — but Hicks, who is battling for the starting center field job, doesn’t like not knowing his teammates. “We’re together for a long time all season,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I want to know more about them?”
It’s not a big deal, he said, and there is plenty of camaraderie in the clubhouse, but Hicks has been actively looking for openings to sit down and catch up with other Twins, particularly the new guys. A lot of players, especially those new to the team, simply sit at their lockers and read their phones and tablets, but Hicks figures he can better spend that time. “Just making friends,” he said.
The Twins are about to take the field for their third day of training camp, and it appears that almost 100 percent of the roster has arrived. Eduardo Nunez unpacked this morning, non-roster infielder Eric Farris arrived, and Joe Mauer (who was here for the Hammond Stadium open house on Sunday) was in the batting cage for the first time this week. Among the 40-man roster, that leaves only Kennys Vargas — who was here last week, but went home to Puerto Rico for a few days — and Max Kepler still to arrive ahead of Saturday’s first full-squad workout.
Check back at startribune.com later today for a video updates from La Velle E. Neal III, plus an interesting video blog he shot with pitcher Mike Palfrey.