Aaron Hicks was the leadoff hitter for the third time this season Tuesday as manager Paul Molitor continues to search for ways to generate runs.

“We all know he has played very well as of late,” Molitor said. “The lefthanded side of his game has come around significantly. He helps stretch the lineup when I put him at the top.”

Hicks, a switch hitter, gave up batting lefthanded for several weeks last season when he couldn’t produce from that side. He eventually went back to switch hitting, but entered this season batting .185 as a lefthanded hitter facing righthanded pitchers.

This season, he’s batting .243 against righthanders and .285 overall heading into Tuesday’s game against the Rangers.

Hicks leading off allows Eddie Rosario to bat seventh, which give the lineup a deeper look.

Mollie and Flip

Molitor and Wolves coach Flip Saunders go back to their days as athletes at the University of Minnesota. They also worked at Pillsbury together while attending school.

“We had to go to the tasting room and try three different kinds of Bundt cakes,” Molitor said of one of their duties.

The Timberwolves announced that Saunders was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Molitor said there hasn’t been a lot of contact between them in recent years, but they hit it off when they first met. He’s hoping Saunders is able to beat cancer.

“He found out recently that he’s got a battle out there in front of him,” Molitor said. “I guess the good news is that it’s a fairly high success rate as far as treatable cancers. He also is fortunate he’s able to use a facility like Mayo [Clinic in Rochester].

“I’ll be thinking of him and pulling for him.”

Back on campus

Before heading to Target Field on Tuesday, Twins closer Glen Perkins swung by Gophers football practice. In addition to watching the players work out, the former Gophers pitcher got to hear coach Jerry Kill’s end-of-practice speech and talk with him afterward.

“The way he runs practice is amazing,” Perkins said. “Everything down to the last second. He’s got those guys working hard.”

Kill invited Perkins to join the team on the sideline for a game this season.

Hamels out

Lefthander Cole Hamels, the Rangers’ big trade deadline acquisition, will not make his scheduled start Thursday against the Twins because of a sore left groin. The team will call up either righthander Chi Chi Gonzalez or righthander Anthony Ranaudo to take Hamels’ place.

Etc.

• Catcher Josmil Pinto, who missed two months because of lingering symptoms of a concussion, was 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI while playing for the Twins’ Gulf Coast League rookie team. He was cleared to play late last week.

• Shortstop Danny Santana has landed on the seven-day disabled list because of a sprained left wrist. First baseman Kennys Vargas was promoted to Class AAA Rochester to take Santana’s spot on the roster. Vargas was the Class AA Southern League player of the week after batting .435 with three home runs.

• Byron Buxton was 1-for-3 with a triple in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday. It was his first game since being reinstated from the disabled list.