9/2/2014 7:48 P.M. ET
Hicks back with Twins with confidence, determination
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a rocky first couple months for Aaron Hicks.
Hicks struggled in the Majors for a second straight season and opted to drop switch-hitting in late May to hit exclusively from the right side.
He ended up injuring his right shoulder in mid-June and went on the 15-day disabled list before being activated later that month and being optioned to Double-A New Britain to help him get his swing back.
It was down there that Hicks received advice from Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who advised the 25-year-old former top prospect to stick with switch-hitting.
"He told me that it was a blessing to be a switch-hitter and to hit from both sides of the plate," Hicks said. "So I made the decision to go back. And since then it's been good."
After hitting .198/.338/.262 in 48 games with the Twins, Hicks was much better in the Minors, batting .286/.381/.438 with five homers and 16 doubles in 66 games between New Britain and Triple-A Rochester.
Hicks, who was one of four position players officially promoted from Rochester as a September callup on Tuesday, said it helped him gain confidence and he's now eager to show his success can translate to the Majors. He'll be mixed into the outfield rotation this month and the center fielder is also expected to see time in the corner outfield spots after seeing time there in the Minors.
"I want to show I can play here," Hicks said. "My confident is up. I want to be the guy who is put in the lineup because they have trust for me. So for me it's about showing it. I've been playing in the corners and that's been interesting. So it's fun to play different positions and be versatile."
Mauer returns to first base after stint at DH
MINNEAPOLIS -- After serving as designated hitter for four straight games against the Orioles because of a sore left shoulder, Joe Mauer returned to first base for the Twins on Tuesday against the White Sox.
Mauer initially suffered a minor shoulder injury diving for a ball during Minnesota's series against the Royals last week. It wasn't bad enough for him to miss any games, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to be cautious with him so he put him at DH for all four games in Baltimore. It also gave Gardenhire the chance to see what rookie Kennys Vargas could do at first base.
The injury didn't affect Mauer at the plate, as he had three hits and drove in four runs in Monday's 6-4 win over the Orioles. Mauer entered Tuesday hitting .297/.402/.473 with two homers, five doubles, one triple and 17 RBIs in 21 games since returning from a right oblique injury that kept him out for more than a month.
"We gave him some days at DH to gather himself a little bit and regroup," Gardenhire said. "But he's swinging it for us. He had a huge day for our team yesterday. He's been coming to play every day. That's what you want out of him. He missed a lot of baseball. But he's a guy who can stir it up for us. He has a great swinging and is swinging good."
Former 46th-round pick Achter called up to big leagues
MINNEAPOLIS -- As right-handed reliever A.J. Achter likes to put it, he was taken in a round of the First-Year Player Draft that doesn't even exist anymore.
Achter was selected by the Twins in the 46th round of the 2010 Draft two years before the Draft was changed to include only 40 rounds.
So Achter took an unusual route to the Majors by becoming a rare late-round Draft pick to make the big leagues on Tuesday, when he was officially called up along with three other pitchers from Triple-A Rochester.
"It's pretty special," Achter said. "It was a pretty emotional time for me and my family. There was a lot of hard work and not just for myself. There was so much time and energy my family had to spend on this journey. So to be able to have it all come together this September is pretty impressive."
Achter, 26, got the call after an impressive season at Rochester, as he posted a 2.38 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 24 walks in 72 innings. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Achter was highly recommended by the staff at Triple-A and was happy for him to make the Majors given where he was drafted four years ago.
"It'll be fun to run him up there and see how he handles it because he had a great year and it was well deserved," Gardenhire said. "It doesn't matter where you get drafted. There's always that heart inside that can tell you that you can make it."
Top prospect Gordon breaks left index finger
MINNEAPOLIS -- Top prospect Nick Gordon broke his left index finger when he was jammed by a pitch on Monday, and will miss the rest of the playoffs with rookie-level Elizabethton, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Tuesday.
Gordon, ranked as the No. 40 overall prospect and the Twins' No. 6 prospect by MLB.com, had a solid first season with Elizabethton after being taken with the No. 5 pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft. The 18-year-old shortstop hit .294/.333/.366 with one homer, six doubles, four triples and 11 stolen bases in 57 games.
But he was jammed by a pitch in the second game of the first round of the Appalachian League playoffs on Monday and underwent X-rays on Tuesday that confirmed he broke his left index finger.
Gordon will wear a splint on his finger for the next two weeks and will also likely miss playing in the Instructional League in Florida as a result. But the Twins still plan on sending him there to rehab his finger and to learn from the coaching staff there.