Notebook: Aaron Hicks has work to do in order to earn way back
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he wanted to see more confidence from Aaron Hicks while he's down in Triple-A.
"I don't want him to get into the 'why-me' portion of the game," Gardenhire said Friday of Hicks, who was demoted on Thursday. "We all go through that. It's time for him to relax a little bit (at Triple-A)."
Gardenhire was still very complimentary of Hicks defense.
"That's really something for a young kid who has struggled like he has offensively to still play good defense," he said.
The biggest gripe Ryan had with Hicks was the lack of on-base percentage, which is part of Hicks' game that came well-advertised from his minor league days.
"He had a tough time," Ryan said. "But I'm not worried about the .190-something batting average; I'm worried about the on-base. He's got speed, and can play the little game, and do a lot of things with his legs. He certainly has a better eye than a lot of young hitters, but his on-base percentage is not acceptable to the point where we can keep thinking it's going to happen. It wasn't happening, and he needs to get that together. That's where I'm at with him."
Every Twins official who spoke on Hicks' behalf Friday emphasized he would have to earn the trip back to Minnesota.
By sending Hicks down, Gardenhire acknowledged he doesn't really have a true backup center fielder.
"Sure I do," Gardenhire said when asked if he has a second centerfielder. "And when I have to put one out there, you'll know who he is too."
Clete Thomas will have to be the warrior out in center as a result.
• Starter Vance Worley (elbow) is taking a step forward, according to general manager Terry Ryan. "He's starting to play catch, and feels no pain," Ryan said. "That's a good thing." Worley has been on the seven-day disabled list at Triple-A Rochester since July 18.
• Reliever Tim Wood (shoulder) is on a throwing program at Fort Myers, and is progressing according to Ryan. Wood is currently on the 60-day disabled list. He last pitched with the Rochester Red Wings on May 6.
• Friday night's visit marked the first time the Houston Astros have visited the Minnesota Twins since June 2009 at the Metrodome. In that series finale, the Twins started a 26-year-old left-hander, who took a 4-1 loss.
That left-hander is now Twins closer Glen Perkins.
That Astros team featured current division foes Michael Bourn (Indians), Miguel Tejada (Royals), and Jeff Keppinger (White Sox), and deposed Tigers closer Jose Valverde as well as various stars like Ivan Rodriguez, Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee. That Twins lineup featured leadoff man Carlos Gomez, a rare appearance by Joe Crede at third base, and a ninth inning pitched by R.A. Dickey.
Times have surely changed.
• Gardenhire said he received great reports about Oswaldo Arcia from Triple-A manager Gene Glynn.
That isn't entirely surprising, given Arcia's .375/.490/.725 batting line in the 13 games he spent at Triple-A. Arcia had four home runs, 13 RBI, and a solid 7-6 K/BB ratio while with the Red Wings. As expected, Gardenhire said Arcia will figure prominently in the day-to-day lineup.
• Ryan said that recently-demoted starter Scott Diamond isn't the guy he was last year. "I think he was tentative and lost his confidence," Ryan said. "He was behind in counts way too much, not enough first pitch strikes. That kind of stuff. He was pinpoint last year, and he's that type of pitcher. He's going to have to have command, control, and damage control. Right now it's not happening for him. He might have been surprised that we gave him that long."
Ryan did mention Diamond's successful Seattle start -- a no-decision spanning 6.1 IP with one earned run and five hits -- as reason for optimism, but ultimately Thursday's blowup against the Royals sealed his fate.
• Gardenhire had his players out for some early work Friday afternoon, which rolled straight into an early round of batting practice in what was likely a full team effort in response to largely lifeless team play in the Royals series.
"We just wanted to get the bad taste of that game out of the way," Gardenhire said of Thursday night's effort. "We were pretty sloppy, so we had to get out there and reinforce and also talk about things we need to do and what I'd like to see from here on out."
• Triple-A reliever Edgar Ibarra has pitched phenomenally so far this season, and could be someone the Twins look to in the future out of the bullpen. Ibarra's number are impressive enough on the whole -- 1.63 ERA in 49.2 IP, 8.5 strikeouts per 9 innings, 1.09 WHIP -- but when considered in the scope of a tough start, they're even more impressive.
Ibarra hasn't allowed an earned run since June 4, a span of 24.1 innings. In that span, he's fanned 22, walked just two, and has allowed a .282 OPS.
"He's had a pretty good year," Ryan said. "He got off to a bit of a tough start at Double-A. Then he got it going and we promoted him to Triple-A, where he's having a pretty good go. He's going pretty good, and he's a hard thrower. We couldn't get him to throw strikes in the past; he's doing that now."