Hicks gets another shot at leadoff for Twins

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 27, 2014 at 2:21 am •  Published: February 27, 2014
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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Hicks made the jump last spring from Double-A to the major leagues and promptly flopped.

He's getting another chance.

Hicks opened his Twins career in a 2-for-48 tailspin and never fully recovered. He was sent down to Triple-A Rochester on Aug. 1 and failed to earn a September promotion, watching from afar as newly acquired Alex Presley held down center field and the leadoff spot over the final month of the season.

Hicks is using spring training to try and win the job. He's just 24.

"I know what I need to do," Hicks said. "I just need to do it."

Asked what Hicks needed to show him in order to reclaim the job, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't cite a single statistic.

"Relax," Gardenhire said. "Have some fun. I don't have any, 'You've got to do this, got to do that.' I just want to see him back to enjoying the game because he was having a hard time last year when he left us and he wasn't having a lot of fun playing."

Hicks finished his rookie season with a .192 batting average and eight home runs in 81 big-league games. He won the job by hitting .370 with four home runs and six doubles last spring, but even a repeat of those numbers might not be enough to hold off Presley this time.

Unlike Hicks, Presley is out of minor-league options. Hicks would likely have to score a knockout in their competition to convince the Twins to risk losing the 28-year-old speedster on waivers.

"He was pretty good for us," Gardenhire said of Presley, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Justin Morneau deal. "Came in, showed us he could hit, handled himself really well at the top of the lineup. He's confident in his own ability to hit and he can do that. He's got a nice short swing."