Results tagged ‘ Aaron Hicks ’

Hicks moves down from leadoff to No. 8 in lineup

MINNEAPOLIS — After a slow start to the season as the club’s leadoff hitter, rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks moved down to the No. 8 spot in the lineup against the Angels on Tuesday.

Hicks entered Tuesday’s game hitting .047 (2-for-43) with 20 strikeouts and four walks in 11 games. With Hicks not in the leadoff spot, Darin Mastroianni was set to take over and start in left field but was a late scratch from the lineup with a sore left ankle.

Instead, second baseman Brian Dozier made his first career start in the leadoff spot and Wilkin Ramirez moved from designated hitter to left field. Hicks also slid down from the No. 7 spot to No. 8 with Ryan Doumit joining the lineup as DH and batting fifth.

“We’re just moving it around and mixing it up a little bit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ll see if [Hicks] can put some swings out there and take all thought process out of it and just go up there and take a whack.”

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe also moved up in the lineup with left-hander Jason Vargas on the mound for the Angels. Plouffe, who has a career .271/.339/.528 line against lefties, hit cleanup for the first time in his career.

“We’ve seen when he gets that backspin going he can get as hot as anyone and he did that last night when he put one in the seats,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been swinging good lately.”

Angels (4-9)
1. Peter Bourjos, CF
2. Mike Trout, LF
3. Albert Pujols, DH
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, 1B
6. Howie Kendrick, 2B
7. Chris Iannetta, C
8. Luis Jimenez, 3B
9. Andrew Romine, SS

LHP Jason Vargas (0-1, 4.76 ERA)

Twins (5-7)
1. Brian Dozier, 2B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
5. Ryan Doumit, DH
6. Chris Parmelee, RF
7. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
8. Aaron Hicks, CF
9. Pedro Florimon, SS
Pedro Florimon, SS

RHP Mike Pelfrey (1-1, 7.36 ERA)

Hicks named Opening Day starting center fielder

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The starting center-fielder competition is over for the Twins.

Aaron Hicks, who has yet to play above Double-A New Britain, will be Minnesota’s center fielder and leadoff hitter come Opening Day on April 1 against the Tigers at Target Field, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced Sunday.

Hicks, who went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI against the Blue Jays on Sunday, won the battle over Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson. Mastroianni is expected to be the club’s fourth outfielder while Benson was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Friday.

“I think it’s pretty simple to say Hicks is going to be our center fielder,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t think it’s a shocking announcement by any means.”

Hicks, 23, has been impressive this spring, as he’s hitting .350/.397/.650 with a team-high four homers, 16 RBIs, 16 runs and three stolen bases. He hit five homers in a three-game stretch earlier this month, including three in a game against the Phillies in Clearwater and one against Team Puerto Rico in an exhibition game.

“It feels great,” Hicks said. “It’s everything I’ve been working for since I started playing baseball. So it just feels really good to be named center fielder.”

Game 15: De Vries sets tone in win over Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — Right-hander Cole De Vries turned in another solid outing and Ray Olmedo provided the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning to help lead the Twins to a 5-4 win over the Pirates on Saturday at McKechnie Field.

The Twins improved to 9-6 with the win and play the Pirates again tomorrow at Hammond Stadium.

What went right: De Vries was solid again, as he’s yet to give up an earned run this spring.

De Vries, making his fourth Spring Training outing, allowed one unearned run on one hit and a walk over three innings against the Pirates. He’s allowed just two hits and a walk in seven scoreless innings so far in Grapefruit League play.

He’s in the mix for the final spot in the rotation but the Twins only need four starters to open the year with a day off after Opening Day. Left-hander Scott Diamond could open the year on the disabled list, however, as he’s not expected to start his first Grapefruit League game until March 18.

Pitching prospect Alex Meyer, who was acquired in the Denard Span trade, was also impressive. He struck out three in three scoreless innings in his second Grapefruit League appearance. He’s expected to start the year at Double-A New Britain but has really turned heads so far in Spring Training.

Darin Mastroianni, in his first game back since suffering a strained left hamstring on Feb. 28, went 2-for-3 with an RBI single. But he was also picked off at first base in the first inning after leading off the game with a single off right-hander A.J. Burnett.

Eduardo Escobar went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. He’s been solid this spring with a .375 average while providing solid defense at second, short and third and has a legitimate shot to make the club as a utility player.

And Ray Olmedo, who is also competing for a utility role despite being a non-roster invite, had another good day at the plate by going 2-for-3 to raise his average to .364.

Clete Thomas brought home a run with an infield RBI single with two outs in the ninth. He’s hitting .318 this spring.

What went wrong: Center fielder Joe Benson had another rough day, as he dropped a fly ball in the first inning that eventually led to a run scoring and went 0-for-3 at the plate while leaving four runners on base.

Benson, who is competing for the center field job with Aaron Hicks and Mastroianni, is hitting just .097 this spring with a team-high 11 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances. But he is tied with Joe Mauer for the team lead in walks with five.

Hicks, though, is in the lead in the center field competition while Mastroianni is firmly in second, as he’s hitting .429 but in only six games.

Right-hander Casey Fien fared fine in two innings in relief of De Vries but did serve up a solo shot to Ivan DeJesus Jr. in the fifth.

Fellow right-hander Anthony Slama couldn’t close the door in the ninth inning, as he gave up a two-run single to Brad Hawpe with two outs after loading the bases. Right-hander Virgil Vasquez, who made the trip despite being in Minor League camp, recorded the final out to pick up the save.

What they said: “I take it as though it’s my spot and my spot to lose. I want to go out there and attack and pitch as well as I can. If they staff is looking at it like it’s not my spot and somebody else’s, I want to make it as hard as I can on them. And if it is my spot, I want to prove that there’s no doubt that I deserve it.” — De Vries.

What’s next: The Twins play the Pirates for a second straight day with right-hander Liam Hendriks set to take the mound in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Hammond Stadium. Hendriks, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, has a 3.38 ERA in three Grapefruit League appearances. Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh.

Injury update: Right fielder Chris Parmelee (tight right groin) isn’t expected to return until Wednesday. The Twins are being cautious with him. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (strained intercostal) could make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday if all goes well doing his workout on Saturday. … Right-hander Anthony Swarzak (ribs) is expected to throw his first bullpen late this week.

Games 12/13: Twins earn split thanks to Hicks’ big day

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins earned a split in split-squad action on Thursday with a 10-6 win over the Phillies in Clearwater and a 12-5 loss to the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium.

Center fielder Aaron Hicks was the star of the day, as he went 4-for-5 with three homers, six RBIs and a stolen base in the win against the Phillies. The Twins are now 7-6 in Grapefruit League play and have their first night game Friday against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.

What went right: Hicks has had an excellent spring and put together an incredible performance at Bright House Field. All three of his homers came from the right side of the plate with his first homer and his third homer going to right field.

The wind was blowing out to right field but it’s still impressive for him to hit two homers to the opposite field. You can watch all three homers, as the game was televised by Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia.

He’s definitely the heavy favorite now to win the center field job even though he’s yet to even play at Triple-A Rochester. But keep in mind, Opening Day is still more than three weeks away and things can change.

Trevor Plouffe also had a nice day at the plate in Fort Myers, going 2-for-3 and is hitting .417 this spring. Eduardo Escobar is also making a case to make the club as a utility infielder and went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .350.

Right-hander P.J. Walters also fared well in relief against the Red Sox, throwing two scoreless innings. He hasn’t given up a run in five innings so far in Grapefruit League play.

Relievers Ryan Pressly, Pedro Hernandez, Luis Perdomo and Tim Wood combined to throw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Phillies. Wood struck out the side and bounced back from his rough outing against the Rays.

What went wrong: Both starting pitchers struggled, as Kevin Correia gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits over 2 1/3 innings against the Red Sox and Kyle Gibson surrendered six runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings against the Phillies.

Correia, though, pitched better than his line score indicated, as he wasn’t helped by his own throwing error and a fly ball that was lost in the sun by Joe Benson in center field. It wasn’t a great day for Benson, who went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Fellow outfielder Brandon Boggs also struck out four times.

Gibson was hit hard in his worst outing of the spring, and now has a 10.50 ERA in three starts. He’s still trying to make the rotation but outings like this aren’t helping his cause.

Reliever Caleb Thielbar was also rocked, as he gave up five runs against the Red Sox, including a two-run double to Dustin Pedroia and a three-run blast to Mike Napoli.

B.J. Hermsen, the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, continued his struggles this spring, as he allowed three runs (two earned) in one inning and has a 13.50 ERA.

What they said: “I heard. It was awesome. The clubhouse kids keep us in the loop, especially when something like that happens. It’s a positive note. It’s good to hear.” — bench coach Terry Steinbach on Hicks’ big day in Clearwater.

What’s next: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who is coming off Tommy John suurgery, is slated to make his fourth Grapefruit League start on Friday night against the Red Sox in a 6:05 p.m. start at JetBlue Park. The game is also set to be televised by FOX Sports North Plus. Right-hander Ryan Dempster is scheduled to start for the Red Sox.

Injury update: Right fielder Chris Parmelee was a late scratch with tightness in his right groin area. The Twins are expected to hold him out a few days for precautionary reasons. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia is hoping to get in his first Grapefruit League game on Sunday. He’s been out with a strained intercostal muscle. … Darin Mastroianni (left hamstring) said he’s been cleared by team doctors to return to action but hasn’t heard officially when he’ll get back in the lineup.

Lineups for the Twins and Phillies at Hammond

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins will get a chance to see Ben Revere in a Phillies uniform, as he’s making the trip to Hammond Stadium and leading off and starting in center field for Philadelphia.

The Twins, though, are countering with prospect Aaron Hicks getting the start in center field and leading off after he had a nice game in Dunedin yesterday with two hits, including a double off the wall.

Justin Morneau is also playing in his fourth straight game but is starting at designated hitter after three games at first base. But he’s showing he’s very serious about playing in the World Baseball Classic by playing in so many games in a row this spring.

Chris Colabello is starting at first base with Morneau serving as DH. Look for a feature today on Colabello, who might be the happiest guy to be in big league camp after spending seven years in an independent league before playing with Double-A New Britain last season.

Right-hander Kevin Correia is also making the start for the Twins today but is scheduled to fly back home to San Diego after the game to attend the birth of his third child. He’ll be back on Sunday and will throw a bullpen before rejoining the rotation.

With Correia in San Diego, prospect Kyle Gibson is set to make his first Grapefruit League start on Saturday against the Red Sox. Gibson was impressive on Sunday against the Rays, throwing two scoreless innings with his fastball hitting 96 mph according to the scoreboard at Hammond Stadium.

Phillies (1-2)
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Domonic Brown, LF
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz, C
6. John Mayberry, RF
7. Kevin Frandsen, 3B
8. Yuniesky Betancourt, 2B
9. Pete Orr, DH

LHP John Lannan (Adam Morgan, Antonio Bastardo, B.J. Rosenberg, Justin De Fratus)

Twins (2-2)
1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, 2B
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Ryan Doumit, C
6. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Chris Colabello, 1B
9. Pedro Florimon

RHP Kevin Correia (Jared Burton, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, P.J. Walters, Caleb Thielbar, Anthony Slama)

Game 4: Center field candidates lead Twins to win

FORT MYERS, Fla. — All three Twins players competing for the center field spot this spring started against the Blue Jays and made an impact in the Twins’ 8-4 win on Tuesday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Darin Mastroianni, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson started in left, center and right field, respectively, and combined to go 4-for-12 with four RBIs, three runs and a walk.

What went right: Mastroianni, Hicks and Benson all looked good at the plate and displayed plenty of speed in the outfield tracking down fly balls.

Benson absolutely crushed a two-run homer in the second inning off Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero. Hicks also picked up two hits and just narrowly missed a homer, as he doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth and came around to score on a single from Mastroianni. Hicks later added an RBI single to center in the fourth.

Prospect Eddie Rosario also smashed a two-run blast in the seventh inning off Dave Bush. It was the first career Grapefruit League homer for Rosario, who is only in camp because he’s going to play for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both fared well offensively, as Morneau went 2-for-4 with an RBI double while Mauer went 1-for-2 with two walks. Trevor Plouffe added an RBI single and a walk in his debut after missing the first three games with a sore right calf.

Relievers Ryan Pressly, Tim Wood, Josh Roenicke, Michael Tonkin and Luis Perdomo combined to throw 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Wood tossed two scoreless while Tonkin was overpowering in the eighth inning.

What went wrong: It’s hard to be too critical about just the first outing for right-hander Mike Pelfrey since he underwent Tommy John surgery on May 1 but he did give up three runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings.

Pelfrey, whose fastball usually averages about 92 mph, was throwing his fastball at about 88 mph but said he’s not worried about velocity at this point in Spring Training. He said that he was only 82-84 mph in his first spring start last year before getting to 92-94 mph by the time the regular season started.

Mastroianni made a baserunning mistake in the in the fourth inning, when he tried to steal third with two outs and Morneau at-bat. He was caught stealing on the play and ended the inning. He’s an aggressive baserunner but he has to know the risk of getting caught at third with two outs outweighs the benefit of stealing third, especially with Morneau at the plate, as he’d score from second on a single with two outs anyways.

Left-hander Tyler Robertson served up his second homer of the spring on a solo blast to Andy LaRoche in the seventh inning.

I wouldn’t call it something going wrong but something very unusual happened in the first inning, when Romero got Mauer to pop up to catcher Henry Blanco. It’s an extremely rare thing considering Mauer has only popped up once over the last two seasons in 974 plate appearances, according to Fangraphs.com. For perspective, Jimmy Rollins popped out 42 times last year in 699 plate appearances.

What they said: “It was good. The defense played well. Couple balls out of the ballpark. Caught the ball. Only had one play that wasn’t great, Mastroianni trying to steal third there with Mornie up, in front of Canadian fans and everything. He just lost his head. So we straightened that out, and we’re OK.” — Gardenhire said.

What’s next: Right-hander Kevin Correia is set to take the mound for the second time this spring, when he starts against the Phillies in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Hammond Stadium. Correia, who gave up a run on two hits over two innings in his first start, is scheduled to fly home to San Diego after the game to attend the birth of his third child. Left-hander John Lannan starts for the Phillies.

Injury update: Plouffe said he’s 100 percent and won’t be limited by his sore calf moving forward. But he said he’s hoping to test it out more, as no one hit the ball his way in his four innings at third base.

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