Notebook: Terry Ryan wants Aaron Hicks to be more aggressive
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Even if hits have been slow to come for Aaron Hicks, the Minnesota Twins center fielder certainly looks more at ease at the plate.
In his first 10 big league games, Hicks had registered a 20-3 K/BB ratio. In the seven games since? Hicks has just two strikeouts and eight walks. Over the past 14 days, nobody has walked more frequently across the major leagues (27.3%).
"Yeah, I'm really just trying to get a good pitch to hit, and not to swing at bad pitches," Hicks said.
One thing that Brian Dozier has reiterated this season is how much slower the game has been for him on his second go-round. And while Hicks is nowhere near Dozier in terms of service time, he's starting to feel like the game is coming to him rather than vice versa.
"The game is definitely slowing down a lot," Hicks said. "The overall atmosphere and just competing on a daily basis. I'm just trying to do what I can to get on base, and score runs."
Twins general manager Terry Ryan is seeing a more calm, competent Hicks as well.
"I think he's made some positive strides this week," Ryan said. "He's taking more competent at bats. He's swinging at strikes. I think he's getting a bit more aggressive. I think he's realizing what it's all about. This is going to be a maturation process. It's different here. Pitchers have a lot better command. They certainly throw the changeup in fastball counts. All that stuff he's seeing here. But he's starting to look confident. He's getting on."
Despite looking more confident lately, Hicks' batting average still sits below .100 with an on-base percentage just a shade above .200 -- paltry numbers through the first few weeks of the regular season.
Ryan added he wants Hicks to look for more spots to drive the ball when situations present themselves.
"Walks are great; getting on base is good," Ryan said. "But if he has a chance to drive in a run, and he gets a pitch he can handle, let's go. That's all."
The evolution of Correia
By his own admission, Kevin Correia is a guy who tinkers with his repertoire a bit. In fact, he's pretty much revamped it entirely since coming up with the Giants in 2003.
A big difference for Correia in that time frame is how he's slashed his walks from a career-high 4.8 per nine innings in San Francisco to just 1.3 per nine innings with the Twins this season.
"I've always hated walking guys," Correia said. "That's something that usually comes back to hurt you. I think my style of pitching is more focused on less strikeouts and more contact now, so I'm walking less guys. The command of all my pitches, I think, has just gotten better over the years."
The key pitch for Correia lately has been a split-fingered fastball.
"It's been good for me the past couple years. I used to throw a circle-change, but I started throwing a split-finger fastball I think four years ago. It was something I tinkered with, and slowly got better with. I have really good command with that pitch right now. ...
"The way you stick around is just keep evolving."
The split, combined with his two-seam fastball, have combined to both post below-average opponent's wOBA figures (weighted on-base average, scaled to OBP).
• Cole De Vries (forearm strain) threw 26 pitches in two innings at extended spring training. "He did well. We'll progress forward here, and if tomorrow he shows up and feels good, we'll stretch him out again," Ryan said. Ryan also noted that De Vries' rehab assignment -- a maximum of 30 days -- will start in Fort Myers at the complex across from where extended spring training takes place.
• Darin Mastroianni (foot) is still in a walking boot for about another week. Ryan said Mastroianni will likely have to go out on a rehab assignment. "I'm sure he will. He's been out for quite a while," Ryan said. "And he'll be out for a number of days here still (after the boot is removed). We have to get him back here where we can do some things with him before we decide on his future. I haven't talked to anybody about him yet because he's not ready to do a thing. We never send a guy to Florida until he's ready to play some. Once he's ready to get into some sort of baseball activity -- where he can take infield or batting practice -- we'll get him out there. That's the beauty of the extended program; you don't have to start the clock other rehab assignment to have him join that program. Once they're ready, you can just shift him across the street."
• Ryan hasn't provided any updates on Tim Wood, Rich Harden, or Rafael Perez in recent days with the exception of saying they're all still on course and have experienced no setbacks.