Twins' Hicks Suffered From Too Much Swing Tinkering





FORT MYERS, Fla.—Aaron Hicks knew his swing like he knew his own name, and his obsession with improving it turned him into a formidable talent . . . with a golf club.

With a bat, however, the nonstop fine-tuning is a habit Hicks is trying to break.

"I never got any consistency last year because I was just tweaking my swing too much," the switch-hitting center fielder said. "I tried my hands high, then tried them low. I tried holding my bat still, then I tried letting my hands move more freely. I was constantly changing it up."

The desire for perfection helped Hicks become a scratch golfer while still a high school student in Long Beach, and he already owns two holes-in-one. But at the plate, the Twins' 2008 first-rounder now believes his ever-changing approach is responsible for a frustrating feast-or-famine season at high Class A Fort Myers.

Hicks, 22, hit .211 last April, but by June he had rediscovered his form, a belief borne out by his .337/.466/.530 batting line and 13 extra-base hits that month.

"It feels amazing to get in that groove," he said. "It feels like you're on top of the world, and it doesn't matter what they throw, you're going to hit it really hard."

The feeling didn't last, however, and Hicks crashed again in July, going 2-for-48 in his final 11 games and subsequently asking for advice from Twitter followers. Through it all, he kept tinkering. He finished the season batting .242/.354/.368.

"I'd go into (batting practice) and try something, and sometimes I felt, 'OK, I'm swinging it good, the ball's coming off,' " Hicks said, "and I'd take it into the game, and it doesn't work."

Hicks was encouraged by his play in the Arizona Fall League, the highest level at which he's played. He collected three home runs, five triples and five stolen bases while batting .294, for a performance he hopes will propel him to Double-A New Britain.

"The better competition is making me better," Hicks said.

TWIN KILLINGS

• According to the Twins, last year's first-rounder Levi Michael had completely recovered from hip and ankle injuries that disrupted his junior year at North Carolina and held him back in instructional league last fall.

• With 33 pitchers in big league camp, the Twins summoned a ninth catcher in the form of Danny Rams, who spent last season with Fort Myers.