Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Aaron Hicks, adjustments, and playing center
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins looked like they were in trouble early Monday, as Kevin Correia got hit hard in the first two innings. With the way the Twins have struggled to score runs in the past week, it seemed they couldn't afford to give up many. Correia was fortunate that several deep drives and line shots were caught, and the Twins held a 2-2 tie through four innings.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Monday's game. You may notice a common theme in today's column.
As always, feel free to ask any questions or make any observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. The big news of the day came when Aaron Hicks announced his decision to forego switch hitting to focus on his right-handed swing. Even on a day Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia returned to the lineup, this may be the headliner. It's a fairly serious and potentially career-altering decision.
Of course, the way his career appeared headed through 445 big league plate appearances, an alteration is exactly what he needed. Hicks sounded confident about the switch after the game Monday. He acknowledged there will be a learning curve.
For a look at the stats and Hicks' batted ball profile, here's the news story.
2. One big adjustment for Hicks facing right-handers as a righty will be sliders breaking away. He's used to having breaking balls break towards his body, on either side of the plate. Now, he'll face pitches moving away from his body. That's an adjustment some players never conquer.
He struck out in his first plate appearance on an outside slider. He felt he was waiting too long for the ball to travel in that first plate appearance, he said.
Later, he collected a pair of single on fastballs, but struck out on a fastball to end the game. He said after the game that he adjusted his timing mid-game.
I'm curious to see what happens if and when pitchers begin consistently feeding him sliders on the outer half. How will this impact his pitch recognition? Can he lay off pitches out of the strike zone? Will he track and hit sliders that catch too much of the plate?
3. Chris Herrmann will play some center field at Triple-A Rochester, Twins assistant Rob Antony said Monday.
Demoted alongside Chris Colabello to make room for Arcia and Willingham, Herrmann's primary value is his positional flexibility.
This may not be a case of the Twins trotting out another playing and hoping he can play center field. It's not a perfect scenario, but several progressive baseball teams are finding value in players who can play multiple positions well. Herrmann has a lot left to prove to show he can hit enough to stick in the big leagues, but adding another position to his resume can't hurt.
"He runs plenty good. He's got good instincts out there," Antony said. "He's played it before, in the minor leagues and college. It's not who you draw up or whatever, but for him to have that role, to be a bench/utility type guy, to have the ability to play center is obviously a plus for him."
4. Hicks made a nice diving catch in the fifth inning to take a hit away from Leonys Martin. It's a ball similar to the one Danny Santana made a late read Sunday. Hicks has much more experience in center and it paid off on this play at least. Once the ball was hit, Hicks made the read and charged in and his speed allowed him to make a sprawling catch.
Hicks has speed and a strong arm. As noted in yesterday's '5 thoughts' column, it takes more than that to be a good center fielder.
5. Hicks was picked off first base after singling in the fifth inning. It appeared, however, that Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch balked and it was not called. Hicks got hung out to dry and it might not have been his fault.