Wetmore: Exactly according to script, Hicks delivers walk-off winner
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MINNEAPOLIS - Nothing like a walk-off winner in extra innings to shake off a seasons-long slump.
That's what Aaron Hicks is hoping, anyway.
One day after Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made critical comments about Hicks' lack of preparation and attention to detail, the centerfielder came through for the Twins. With Kurt Suzuki on second and two outs in the 10th inning, Hicks served a single to left field to lift the Twins to a series win over the defending World Champs.
Of course, it's probably too simple to draw a line between the two points.
Twins challenge Hicks to be more prepared. Hicks hits walk-off winner.
If only the Twins had publicly challenged him sooner!
In baseball, it's rarely that simple. For the day, however, it's a fascinating storyline.
"That was a big hit for me, a big hit for our team and it felt good for me to produce for our team," Hicks said.
"Things just haven't been going my way. I hit a ball hard, guy makes a diving catch; I hit a ball hard and we're in the wrong stadium," Hicks said of his struggles this year. "It's stuff like that, stuff you can't control. For me, it's definitely been tough because it seems like when things aren't going good it's not going good. When things are going semi-good, then I'm lining out."
A photograph taken just after Hicks connected for his game-winning hit showed joy on the face of a guy who hasn't experienced much of it in the big leagues.
"It's been a while," Hicks said after his first walk-off since high school. He was referring to the time between walk-off winners. But after the right-handed swing against the lefty Andrew Miller gave the Twins a series win against the Red Sox, he might as well have been referring to the joy he experienced on a ball field.
The Twins have spoken privately before with Hicks about taking his preparation work more seriously. On Tuesday the Twins had a sit-down with Hicks to again outlined their expectations, and on Wednesday that became public knowledge.
"It was something that we talked about. I need to start becoming a better professional, a better player. There are things I need to know and things I need to do to prepare for a regular game," Hicks said.
"That's something you need to do in order to become a stable big-league hitter. Maybe preparing is something I need to try to do more. Try things to be able to make my game better and have an edge on the game."
Hicks circled first base and danced with joy on his way to second as Suzuki scored ahead of the throw. Teammates pummeled him in celebration in short center field. Chris Colabello engulfed him in a big hug.
For a night, things worked out for Hicks.