Game 27: Hicks’ big day helps carry Twins to victory

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Justin Morneau and Drew Butera homered to lead the Twins to a 14-5 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.

But it was Aaron Hicks who stole the show by going 4-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI before being named the club’s starting center fielder come Opening Day after the game.

With the win, the Twins improved to 14-13 in Grapefruit League play. They host the Cardinals in an afternoon game at Hammond Stadium on Monday.

What went right: The wind certainly helped but the Twins offense had another big performance.

Mauer blasted a three-run homer in the first inning and later drove home three more runs with a bases clearing double as part of a seven-run fourth inning for the Twins.

Dozier and Morneau also hit two-run homers while Butera launched a solo blast while serving as a pinch-hitter for Mauer.

But Hicks set the tone at the top of the lineup with four hits, including a double, and was rewarded by being told after the game that he beat out Darin Mastroianni for the center-field job.

On the pitching side, Jared Burton tossed a scoreless inning while Josh Roenicke threw two scoreless frames. It’s looking like Roenicke, who is out of Minor League options, will make the bullpen, especially now that Tim Wood is out with a strained right rotator cuff.

What went wrong: The Twins finally got their chance to start P.J. Walters with Samuel Deduno out with a strained left groin but he didn’t have his best stuff.

Walters, who entered with a perfect 0.00 ERA in 11 innings, didn’t fare as well against Toronto, as he surrendered three runs on five hits and two walks over three-plus innings. He also served up a two-run blast to Luis Jimenez on a windy day that featured seven homers between the two clubs.

He threw 57 pitches and is expected to get to 85 pitches in his next outing. But he could be on the outside looking in as far as the rotation goes, as he’s not as stretched out as Cole De Vries or Liam Hendriks and isn’t on the 40-man roster.

What they said: “I think it’s pretty simple to say Hicks is going to be our center fielder. I don’t think it’s a shocking announcement by any means.”– Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

What’s next: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey is set to start for the Twins in a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals at Hammond Stadium. Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on May 1, has a 7.45 ERA in four outings this spring. Right-hander Shelby Miller is scheduled to take the mound for the Cardinals.

Injury update: Wood was diagnosed with a right rotator cuff strain and is likely to not be ready for the start of the season, according to Twins general manager Terry Ryan.

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