Twins’ Hicks named Opening Day center fielder

The Minnesota Twins’ center field job is officially Aaron Hicks’.

The Twins announced via Twitter on Sunday that manager Ron Gardenhire has named Hicks as the team’s center fielder on Opening Day. That means the 23-year-old Hicks will make his major league debut April 1 at Target Field without ever playing a game at Triple A.

Hicks entered camp as perhaps the favorite to win the starting job, but he was competing with Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni for the spot. Both Benson and Mastroianni have major league experience, while Hicks has never played higher than Double-A New Britain. Benson was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Friday, making it apparent that Hicks would indeed make the 25-man roster.

The spring Hicks has put together made it too tough for the Twins to send him to Triple-A Rochester to begin the season. After a 4-for-4 effort on Sunday in Fort Myers, Hicks is now batting .350 with four home runs and 18 RBI.

Minnesota’s center field job opened up after the Twins traded outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason in order to acquire pitching. The organization has depth at the outfield position, including a five-tool player in Hicks. Last season at New Britain, he hit .286 with 13 homers, 61 RBI and 32 stolen bases.

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