MINNEAPOLIS -- Less than a month ago, the Twins sent Oswaldo Arcia back to Triple-A Rochester to help him get refocused, regain his confidence and start having fun playing baseball again. On Friday, Arcia returned to Minneapolis after the Twins gave the same message to Aaron Hicks.
Arcia hit .375 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 13 games during his July stint at Rochester. The Twins are hoping for a similar turnaround for Hicks, who was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday on the heels of a 7-for-43 (.163) stretch since the All-Star break.
"Right now, he's in that mode where he's struggling swinging, and every time he does hit a ball hard, it seems to be right at somebody," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't want him to get into the 'Why me?' type of stuff. 'When am I going to get a break?' I don't want him to go through that, which we all do at one point or another. ... It's time for him to relax a little bit, go to Triple-A, get some swings, get some confidence going."
Despite Hicks' struggles to adapt to Major League pitching, Gardenhire praised the rookie's ability to keep his offense from affecting his play in the field. Hicks made a number of highlight-reel catches in his first four months as a big leaguer, and his throw from right-center to nail Vernon Wells at third base at Yankee Stadium last month will not soon be forgotten.
"He's been playing great defense, which is something for a young kid to struggle like he has offensively and still play the defense that he played," Gardenhire said. "That's a good sign. ... He's going to be a good one. He's a good player, very talented, so this is a good time to let him refresh with a month left until September."
The Twins manager cautioned, however, that a return to Minneapolis for the season's final month is far from a given.
"We told him there's no guarantee he'll be back up here in September -- he's got to earn it. If he wants to get called back up, he's got to go down there and produce and play, and that's the way it should be, along with everybody else."
That's a message Arcia apparently took to heart. He was demoted on July 13 after managing just three hits -- all singles -- in his last 33 at-bats, but the big league staff received good reports from Rochester manager Gene Glynn on Arcia's development in his return to Triple-A.
"[Glynn] told me ... he's been swinging good, and he's made some real nice plays in the outfield," Gardenhire said. "He's playing a little more right field down there, but he's running the ball down good and everything's going well."
As for whether Arcia will stick with the Twins this time around, Gardenhire said it's anybody's guess, but he laid out what he thinks will be key to Arcia's advancement.
"It all going to depend on how he handles it mentally up at the plate, his strike zone, and if he's starting to get a feel for it. He's a strong young man -- we've seen him swing the bat, and we like it. He's very enthusiastic and he brings some pop. He can generate two or three runs in a hurry, and we need that right now."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less