In a week's time this past offseason, the Minneosta Twins traded both players (Denard Span and Ben Revere) that manned center field (and batted leadoff) in 2012, making the position battles wide open. Well, with three weeks to go before the start of the 2013 season, Aaron Hicks' play is making a strong case that the battle is over.
The Twins traded Span and Revere -- both fan favorites -- to shore up their depleted pitching staff and have been gambling that a young player would step up to fill the spot. Joe Benson, Darrin Mastroianni and Hicks stepped into the fray. And even though Mastroianni injured his hamstring recently, Hicks appears to be closing the door, regardless.
On Thursday, Hicks hit three home runs in the Twins' 10-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Although they were wind-aided blasts, the power is not an anomaly as Hicks has homered five times in his past three games.
Hicks, who is a solid defender, said he hadn't hit three homers in a game since high school, so the power may come as a bit of a surprise. And while some have speculated that his power may be better used elsewhere in the batting order, it will be welcome at leadoff, where Revere, in 1,064 plate appearances over two seasons, had no home runs.
For Hicks, the three homers gave him a chance to helps his team.
"Just get on base, steal a bag, help my team win ballgames," Hicks told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "That's all I tried to do. Got three home runs and we ended up winning the ballgame."
Hicks (who played Class AA ball last season) helped the Twins get the win, and he may just have solidified himself a starting spot on opening day, to boot.