Twins’ CF Hicks going back to switch-hitting
MINNEAPOLIS — In what has become a bit of a soap opera for the Minnesota Twins, the organization has confirmed that center fielder Aaron Hicks will once again become a switch hitter.
Almost a month ago, with his confidence shattered and numbers lagging, Hicks announced he would no longer switch hit and would instead hit only from the right side of the plate, where his numbers were significantly better.
But after a couple weeks of getting steady diets of breaking balls from right-handed pitchers while on a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A New Britain, Hicks has again decided that he will be a switch hitter.
The midseason choice to drop switch hitting last month was rare enough, but to double back and decide to once again take it up is nearly unprecedented.
“I don’t know if I recall anybody,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. “Until the player is on board, it doesn’t matter to me. I can give an opinion, and a lot of people have weighed in on this, but for me, you have to side with what the player wants to do. If he’s not comfortable doing it, he’s not going to go up there with any confidence.”
Once a top prospect within the organization, and still highly regarded publicly by those within the front office, Hicks got off to his second straight slow start this season. After trading veteran center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere two winters ago, Hicks was designated the future in center entering last season after skipping Triple-A. But he struggled with injuries and performance and was sent to Rochester in a bit of a wasted season. After another strong spring training this year, Hicks won the job in center but struggled mightily.
His preparation was even called into question by some in early May when reports surfaced that Hicks often showed up to the ballpark without knowing who the opposing pitcher was that night. A concussion and a shoulder strain have also complicated his sophomore season as injuries and other roster moves have forced Minnesota to keep Hicks with the big club when he’s been healthy.
“It’s his career,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s got to decide what’s best for him right now.”
Hicks decided to continue switch hitting Saturday in New Britain, where he went 2-for-4.
“He basically didn’t feel comfortable right on right,” Gardenhire said. “That’s the explanation.”
“There’s a still a lot of upside, so we’ll go with it and hopefully it will work out for all of us,” Ryan said.