Aaron Hicks is getting another shot to prove he belongs in the major leagues.
The 25-year-old outfielder was told Monday night that he was being promoted to the Twins from Class AAA Rochester. The Twins confirmed their 2008 first-round pick is on his way to Detroit and will be in uniform for the series opener against the Tigers..
The team placed outfielder Shane Robinson on the Family Emergency List, which he can stay for from three to seven days. The list is for players with a serious family emergency or after the death of a family member. The Twins did not release details of Robinson's situation.
Hicks was the Twins’ Opening Day center fielder each of the previous two series, only to be sent to the minors each time while frustrating the Twins with his lack of production and questionable effort. Last May, he briefly gave up switch hitting, only to return to it a few weeks later.
Hicks told the Rochester Democrat and Chrnoicle's Kevin Oklobzeja that he's made an adjustment in his batting stance: "Now I have a leg kick on both sides that I use for timing and it's been working out and awesome. Feels good to go up there feeling the way I do right now. The only thing now is just to do it there and help the team win games."
A .201 hitter in 150 major league games, Hicks didn’t make a good impression with new manager Paul Molitor this spring.
On March 10 in a game against Toronto in Dunedin, Fla., Hicks lost track of the number of outs while running the bases — the second day in a row he made a mental mistake as a baserunner — and Molitor removed him in the fourth inning.
“We can’t have that,” Molitor said at the time.
The Twins twice passed up the chance to recall Hicks from Rochester last week but chose someone else, first calling up Eddie Rosario when Oswaldo Arcia went on the disabled list, then calling up Doug Bernier to replace the injured Eduardo Nunez.
But through it all, Hicks has continued to hit at Rochester. He went 2-for-4 Monday night in a 4-0 victory over Toledo, raising his average to .336 this season with two homers, 14 RBI and 21 runs scored.
“A no-brainer, really,” Red Wings manager Mike Quade told the Democrat and Chronicle.
The Twins also announced Tuesday that reliever Tim Stauffer is starting a rehabilitation assignment at Rochester. He has been on the disabled ist with a strained muscle oin his rib cage.
Molitor developing his style
He has only been in charge for five weeks of the regular season, so it’s still too early to know exactly what sort of manager Molitor will be. But for now, the 58-year-old first-time skipper seems content to follow a baseball Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm.
“I’m looking for opportunities to get runs in, but I’m a little cautious sometimes,” Molitor said of his still-developing style. “I haven’t really done a lot. It is tempting at times. It’s like: ‘Am I doing enough? Am I creating enough opportunities to put guys in motion?’ But with the results the way they’ve been, I just know that I’m not going to force it.”
The Twins have utilized the sacrifice bunt only six times so far, equaling the American League average. They have attempted only 19 steals, fewer than every AL team but Boston, Baltimore and Chicago, and their 52.6 percent success rate, 14th out of 15 AL teams, is a good reason why. Molitor has ordered six intentional walks — again, exactly the AL average — and tried a handful of hit-and-runs, though he limits that chore to veterans such as Torii Hunter and Kurt Suzuki — and even then, “when you’re swinging well, I’ve got to be selective about asking them to do that.”
One of the ways Molitor is restraining himself from trying to put his own stamp on the game was illustrated during Friday’s 9-3 victory at Cleveland. Three innings opened with leadoff doubles, and Molitor never asked the next batter to bunt, thus setting up a sacrifice fly, or even hit the ball to the right side, though Kennys Vargas did so once. Long-ago Twins manager Gene Mauch, a staunch bunt supporter, would quarrel with Molitor’s reasoning:
“The theory on leadoff doubles has changed a little bit through the years. It used to be always, get him over, get him in,” Molitor said. “A lot of times now, we’re trying to tell the guys, just go ahead and hit. Try to trade places with him.”
It’s situational, Molitor said, but he likes having his hitters swing away. And for what it’s worth: All three leadoff doubles eventually scored. Twins batters who have led off an inning with a double have yet to be sacrificed to third, and those batter have scored 11 times in 15 opportunities.