Notebook: Struggling Aaron Hicks dropped to eighth in order by Twins
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Struggling center fielder Aaron Hicks was dropped from the leadoff spot to eighth in the Minnesota Twins' batting order for Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field.
Hicks opened the season with an .047 batting average and did not start on Monday. He did enter the game late.
"It's just going to be a matter of if he can relax when it's his time to hit. We'll see," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just wanted to move it around, mix it up a little bit, and go from there. We'll see if he can put some good swings out there. You know, take all that thought process out of it, get up there, and take a whack."
Gardenhire credited Hicks with having a solid at-bat Monday in the bottom of the eighth inning when the rookie fell behind 1-2 before drawing a six-pitch walk.
"It was a good at bat, and he showed some good base running," Gardenhire said. "He just has to carry it over and go from there. It was a big time in the game, he had a quality at-bat. We saw it many times in Florida, so now he has to carry it up here and go from there."
Gardenhire's original plan was to have Darin Mastroianni lead off and play left field on Tuesday but he ended up being a late scratch because of a sore left ankle that will keep him out on a day-to-day basis. Second baseman Brian Dozier was moved to the leadoff spot.
* Left fielder Josh Willingham was still suffering from flu-like symptoms, and was expected to head home before Tuesday's game. The Twins are hoping he can play Wednesday.
* Third baseman Trevor Plouffe was put in the cleanup spot for Tuesday's game against Angels lefthander Jason Vargas. Plouffe carries a career batting line of .271/.339/.528 against lefties. "He's putting some backspin swings on balls, and when he does that, he can get as hot as anyone," Gardenhire said. "He's been swinging pretty good lately, having quality at-bats."
* Gardenhire said he told Oswaldo Arcia to "go down to Triple-A, swing the bat, move around the outfield and play some different positions," adding if Arica can, "keep doing what he's be doing, he'll get back to the big leagues." Gardenhire also noted that general manager Terry Ryan will travel to Rochester to pass the message along to have Arcia play all the outfield positiosn, including center field. "He's a fun hitter," Gardenhire said. "He really believes (in himself) with a bat in his hand." Arcia, 21, played for the Twins on Monday after being recalled from Rochester but was sent down right after the game. Arcia was replacing Ramirez, who had been placed on paternity leave.
* There was potential for first baseman Justin Morneau to serve as the Twins' designated hitter on Tuesday, but he wanted no part of it. "He wants to be out there playing defense, so that's a good sign," Gardenhire said.
* The club has been encouraged with shortstop Pedro Florimon's offense so far. "We told him out of spring training not to put too much stock into working walks out of a 2-0 count necessarily, but to get into hitting counts and to take some swings at it," Gardenhire said. Gardenhire couched that statement by saying, "There's times in the game where you want him to get on base, and I think he's starting to understand that," he said. "There's no reason you have to be labeled as a light-hitting shortstop, and he's a strong kid. If he puts the barrel on the ball, he can hit it a long way. Let's let him have some fun swinging."
* When Gardenhire was asked how catcher Joe Mauer has changed from age 20 to 30 -- Mauer will turn 30 on Friday -- the first answer was a deadpanned "Well, he's almost 10 years older." But Gardenhire went on to say that Mauer has matured, but was well above everyone else when he came up. "He had things to learn, but he was very quiet and just went about his business," Gardenhire said. "He's always been very professional and that hasn't changed a bit. It's kind of amazing how little he's changed in that way."
* Gardenhire noted that the club is still getting a feel for Tuesday's starter Mike Pelfrey in terms of velocity, and how he works in different situations. "In the past he's worked slow, but we're trying to get the pace going a little bit," Gardenhire said. "He really worked hard on that in his last outing. He's a gamer-type guy, and he wants the ball. Hopefully, he'll perform, and we'll get a good feel for him as we go along."