5/26/2014 5:49 P.M. ET
Hicks decides to give up switch-hitting
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- It came as a surprise even to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire but center fielder Aaron Hicks came to his office Monday morning and announced he's giving up switch-hitting and will only bat right-handed moving forward.
Hicks has struggled as a left-handed hitter in the big leagues, as he's a career .179/.261/.285 hitter with five homers in 107 games hitting left-handed compared to a .227/.333/.402 hitter with four homers in 65 games batting from the right side.
It's been similar this season, as he's batting .145/.277/.203 from the left side and .263/.417/.342 from the right side. Gardenhire said Hicks has been getting extra work from the right side with hitting coach Tom Brunansky, but that he didn't expect Hicks to make his decision on Monday before the Twins played the Rangers and right-hander Nick Tepesch.
"He's gonna shelve his left-handed swing," Gardenhire said. "He says he has no confidence in it. He's worked at it with Bruno trying to figure these things out. He came to me this morning and said he wants to hit right-handed. So, obviously, when a guy has no confidence left-handed, you gotta do what you gotta do."
Gardenhire said that in an ideal world, Hicks would be optioned to Triple-A Rochester to work on hitting against right-handed pitchers from the right side because he's now lost the platoon advantage. But Sam Fuld remains sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, and Hicks is the only true center fielder on the roster.
"We need him out there," Gardenhire said. "We don't have a replacement right now. He feels confident right-handed, now we're gonna see how he does right-handed. It's just the way it has to be."
Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino made the same decision to drop switch-hitting last year but he was already in his 10th big league season. Hicks said he made the decision on his own, as the organization never pushed him to drop hitting left-handed.
"Now it's only one side I have to worry about and it's the side I feel confident on," Hicks said. "I've been thinking about it for a while but it was just a decision I felt like making. It's been a combination of a lot of things. For me, I just want to produce and help this team win and I think this is the decision that's going to do that."
Hicks went 2-for-4 in his first game as a full-time right-handed hitter in Minnesota's 7-2 loss to the Rangers. He was also picked off first base in the fifth, and struck out twice.
"It's definitely different," said Hicks, who made the decision to ditch switch-hitting while flying back to Minnesota on Sunday. "It felt good to actually see 'em today. The first at-bat I was letting the ball get too deep. It felt different."
Willingham, Arcia arrive, back in lineup
MINNEAPOLIS -- Reinforcements arrived for the Twins on Monday as outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia both officially rejoined the team and started against the Rangers.
Willingham was activated from the 15-day disabled list, and started in left field and batted fifth. It was his first game since April 6, as he was hit by a fastball on his left wrist that day and was placed on the DL as a result.
Arcia started in right field and hit cleanup in his first start since April 4. He was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right wrist retroactive to April 5, and was activated from the DL on May 14. But he was optioned to Triple-A Rochester upon coming off the DL, as the Twins wanted him to get his swing right and make sure his wrist was fully healed before he returned.
"It's exciting," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You get to see those two big guys in the middle drive a baseball. We struggled on our road trip and didn't swing the bat great. Hopefully these guys can inject a little bit into us. I know Arcia was driving the baseball, and we know Willingham can, too."
Willingham hit .185 (5-for-27) with a homer, two doubles and three RBIs in eight games with Triple-A Rochester on a rehab assignment. His homer came on Saturday, and he went 3-for-11 with a homer and a double in three games over the weekend.
"It's a timing thing," Gardenhire said. "He sat out for six weeks before going out on rehab. But they said he was clicking on the ball and his swing was pretty good. The bat head was in the right place and all that. So we'll see how he swings it up here."
Arcia, meanwhile, fared well at Rochester, hitting .312/.365/.597 with five homers and seven doubles in 22 games. He also hit .353 with four homers and 12 RBIs over his previous nine games since being activated from the DL.
"I'm happy to be back," Arcia said. "I feel 100 percent. I'm glad to be here."
Military-family man Gardenhire happy MLB gives back
MINNEAPOLIS -- Being born into a military family, Memorial Day has always been a special holiday for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
So Gardenhire was pleased to see the Twins and Major League Baseball honor those who lost their lives while serving their country.
"A lot of people have served their country and sacrificed their lives for what we're doing now and for our freedom," Gardenhire said. "My father was a part of that. I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of women and men who are serving still. So this is their day. And every day should be their day. So I'm glad we can use the baseball field to recognize that all around baseball."
The Twins and Rangers wore specially-designed caps and jerseys featuring an authentic military digital camouflage design licensed from the United States Marine Corps in honor of Memorial Day.
The Memorial Day effort is part of MLB's ongoing recognition of veterans, active military and military families. MLB has committed more than $30 million to Welcome Back Veterans since its inception in 2008.
MLB and MLB Advanced Media are donating 100 percent of its net proceeds from sales of the US-based clubs' caps and jerseys to Welcome Back Veterans as part of its contribution to the program.