The Free Press, Mankato, MN

News Ticker

Sports Columns

May 20, 2013

Thoma column: Twins going into the outfield future

When the Twins traded away both Denard Span and Ben Revere in the span of a few December days, the knew they’d be breaking in a pair of rookie outfielders.

As it turns out, they’re breaking in three — Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Parmelee.

It’s been a bumpy ride for all three.

Hicks has had the most difficult time of the trio, and he also figures to have the longest leash. He’s a center fielder, and neither of the other two have the tools for that position.

His 0-fer Saturday dropped his batting average to .142 — the lowest batting average among the 90 qualifiers in the American League. Even more worrisome: his on-base percentage — his strong suit as a hitter because he’s willing to take a walk — is third lowest. His slugging percentage is second lowest.

He’s been better in May than he was in April, but that’s not saying much. His May average still sits below .200 (entering Sunday’s game).

But the Twins will stick with him. I heard Ron Gardenhire this week, asked on the radio about Hicks’ big game on Monday (two homers and a spectacular catch), say something like:

People say send him here, send him there. But you’ve got to have somebody to replace him with.

And, by implication, the Twins lack a plausible replacement. Darin Mastroianni remains sidelined with troubled left ankle. Joe Benson is spluttering in Triple A himself (batting average .187).

Hicks had a well-established pattern in the minors of struggling initially when moved up in the farm system, and he’s skipping a level this spring. It should have been expected that he’d have some troubles at the plate. But I don’t think anybody expected them to be this deep.

Arcia, one of the star bats in the system wasn’t supposed to be here now. But when Mastroianni went down, Arcia came up in mid-April, and the Twins didn’t call him to the majors at age 21 (he turned 22 this month) to sit on the bench.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports Columns
  • Thoma column: Bartlett's failure no surprise — except to the Twins The Jason Bartlett Experiment ended last week with its inevitable failure; the former shortstop aborted his rehab assignment in Fort Myers and retired. The idea that Bartlett would be a ideal bench component was always illogical. That Ron Gardenhire

    April 21, 2014

  • Courrier: There are no winners in MSU football saga Where to start? In 28 years in the business, there has never been a more odd, twisted, rollercoaster story than the Todd Hoffner saga. And that was before he came back to the Minnesota State campus this week, when strange became tragic and the chance

    April 17, 2014

  • Thoma column: Twins are scoring lot of runs; can this continue? The Minnesota Twins entered Sunday's play with the American League's second-highest number of runs scored. And, they haven't had the advantage of hitting off their own pitching staff. OK, it's dreadfully early in the season, far too early to draw co

    April 14, 2014

  • Courrier: Masters is first sign that winter has been conquered Don't know if anybody noticed but it's been a tough winter, with brutal cold and piles of snow that are now just disappearing. If not for an exciting season of local basketball and hockey, it would have an unbearable four months. Minnesota State had

    April 10, 2014

  • Thoma column: We all know the Ryan Braun saga: Winner of the National League MVP award, flunked a drug test, convinced the arbitrator to toss his suspension on the basis that his sample was mishandled, was snagged anyway in the Biogenesis investigation, suspended

    April 7, 2014

  • Focus will be on Mavericks' QBs this spring The Minnesota State football team began its spring practice period this week, 14 workouts in 27 days, trying to see who has been working hard to maintain a starting position and which backups might be ready to get more playing time in the fall. The b

    April 4, 2014

  • Thoma column: For the remade Twins, 2014 looks like more losing The start of the baseball season is supposed to be about fresh beginnings, wide open promises and the hope that springs eternal in the human breast. I'm here to quash that kind of optimism among the followers of the Minnesota Twins. (I strive to be a

    April 1, 2014

  • Shot clock isn't answer for high-school basketball A few weeks back, the state's basketball fans were all riled up that during a state-tournament game, the Hopkins boys spent much of the four overtimes holding the basketball, preferring not to shoot until the final seconds of each extra period in the

    March 28, 2014

  • Thoma column: Projected lineup is Mauer, Arcia and a bunch of outs The Minnesota Twins begin play in earnest in less than a week -- weather permitting -- and wow, do they have lineup issues. They scored 614 runs last season, 13th in the 15-team American League and almost 100 under the league average (702). Justin Mo

    March 26, 2014

  • Thoma column: Perkins extension may not be such a relief over time In the abstract, long-term contracts for relief pitchers are bad bets for teams. Nobody seems to be too concerned about that rule of thumb when it comes to Glen Perkins' new deal with the Twins. The contract, worth more than $21 million in guaranteed

    March 17, 2014