4/20/2014 3:20 P.M. ET
Hicks still a work in progress
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Center fielder Aaron Hicks continues to be a work in progress for the Twins. There have been flashes of brilliance from Hicks, but consistency at the plate continues to be an issue for the 24-year-old, who entered Sunday's series finale against the Royals with a .179 batting average.
On Saturday, Hicks turned in an impressive first plate appearance when he showed the discipline to draw a bases-loaded walk from Bruce Chen. But Hicks finished the day 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
"It looked like he got flustered [Saturday]," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We don't want him to get into that mode."
The Twins want to make sure that Hicks doesn't take any offensive struggles with him to the field. He did make one highlight-reel catch in deep right-center Saturday to save right fielder Chris Colabello. But when left fielder Jason Kubel lost a routine fly ball in the sun, Hicks wasn't around the ball as he should have been.
"He's a kid and we talked to him about it," Gardenhire said. "It's a learning experience, always. Just don't get caught by not backing up [another fielder]. Just go play the game. [Saturday] was one of those rough ones for him, I thought. He did make a great catch, and I know that's what everybody remembers. But there were about four other plays where we were like, 'Just go.' He wants to do well and he's trying hard. We've had lots of conversations about playing through this stuff. There are good at-bats and bad at-bats."
Twins add versatile Fuld off waivers
KANSAS CITY -- In an effort to upgrade their outfield production, the Twins claimed Sam Fuld off waivers from the Athletics on Sunday.
Fuld, 32, hit .200 for the A's with two triples, a homer and four RBIs this season. To make room on the 40-man and 25-man roster, the Twins designated outfielder Darin Mastroianni for assignment. Mastroianni had gone 0-for-11 with five strikeouts in seven games since coming up from Triple-A Rochester.
Fuld's outfield versatility caught the eye of Twins officials.
"He can play all the outfield positions, and he can steal a base," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He puts together pretty good at-bats. We got a firsthand look at him when Oakland was in town last week. He's a gamer, a guy who comes to play every day. Hopefully, he can add a little life to the offense."
Fuld was in the Bay Area on Sunday and will join the Twins as they open a series against Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.
The Twins will have a week to possibly work out a deal for Mastroianni. If Mastroianni should eventually be put on waivers and clear, the Twins would be receptive to keeping him in the organization.
"He's in good standing in this organization," Antony said. "He works hard and plays hard. His speed is what you like to see in an extra outfielder. Unfortunately, he came up here and hit a few balls hard, but didn't have any luck."
The Fuld acquisition could give the Twins options should center fielder Aaron Hicks continue to struggle at the plate.
"I don't think [Hicks] is inked in as our everyday center fielder for the rest of the season," Antony said. "He needs to improve his game and become more consistent. He has shown flashes of the things we like to see. And then sometimes he'll kind of get in a fog, slip back into some old habits and doesn't appear as focused as he should be. But we still have a lot of confidence in him and believe he has a world of talent. It's just a matter of him being able to help us right now as well."
Antony said he has discussed with manager Ron Gardenhire the possibility of a platoon situation in center with the switch-hitting Hicks and Fuld.
"I think Aaron is more comfortable from the right side," Antony said. "Maybe we give him more at-bats where he's a little more comfortable and get him going."
Mauer willing to bunt on shift
KANSAS CITY -- If Joe Mauer wants to draw his bat in and lay down a bunt to ignite a rally, it's a small-ball weapon that's perfectly acceptable to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
The Royals played the shift against Mauer on Saturday and he responded by dropping a bunt down the third-base line to reach first as the leadoff hitter in the fifth inning. Kansas City had just taken a 5-2 lead.
"I don't mind it a bit," Gardenhire said. "Joe's an on-base guy and a line-drive hitter. That's another weapon he can use."
Against left-hander Bruce Chen, Mauer had wide-open spaces on the left side of the infield. A few more bunts like that and opponents may have to reconsider how they position their defense against Mauer.
Suzuki happy to help as designated hitter
KANSAS CITY -- Kurt Suzuki loves to strap on the catching gear and work behind the plate. But on those days when the Twins don't ask Suzuki to endure the wear and tear of catching, it's a nice luxury for Minnesota to know he can still help the club as a designated hitter.
On Saturday, Suzuki appeared as a designated hitter for the first time since May 15, 2011, when he was with Oakland. The results were encouraging as Suzuki went 2-for-4 with a homer and three runs batted in.
For a guy who's used to being in the middle of the action, Suzuki adjusted to the idle time and responded with some quality at-bats.
If the Twins want him to DH on what might be a normal rest day for Suzuki, it's just another way for him to help his new club.
"I like to be active," Suzuki said. "But if I'm in the lineup [as a DH] ... Hey, love it."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.