Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What is Aaron Hicks' ultimate role?

Aaron Hicks, no longer a switch hitter, went 0-for-2 Tuesday with a strikeout and was pinch-hit for in the eighth inning..

He also played a big role in keeping the Twins in the game, turning a potential three-run homer by Texas' Donnie Murphy into a sac fly. The catch was a useful reminder of the athletic tools Hicks has.

He just needs to turn those tools into skills. That's more difficult than it sounds.

Right now, Hicks is the best (only) center fielder the Twins have. But that won't last long. Byron Buxton, still sidelined by his bum wrist (with no timeline to return to action, it was reported Tuesday) is, without a doubt, the center fielder of the future.

And where does that leave Hicks?

He has not hit well enough to justify being a regular centerfielder, much less a regular corner outfielder. He's been a better hitter from the right side -- hence the decision to quit hitting left-handed -- but even his numbers against lefties are poor.

The Twins would doubtless love to see Hicks find a groove from the right side. If he can hit .260 with 20 homers, 20 steals and 80 walks (plus his center-field caliber range and cannon arm afield), they can justify making him a corner outfield regular.

That's a big IF, though. If the shift to hitting right-handed full time doesn't result in a rapid growth in results, he's a fourth outfielder -- at best.

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