Presley working to secure starting center-field job

Presley working to secure starting center-field job

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Alex Presley knows how important it is to make a good impression in his first Spring Training with the Twins, as he's competing for the starting job in center field with Aaron Hicks.

Presley, who was acquired in the trade that sent Justin Morneau to the Pirates late last season, said he's preparing himself to be the starter in center field, but isn't taking anything for granted. Hicks struggled last year as a rookie, but is still held in high regard by the organization. He had an impressive Spring Training last year, so he's still in the mix with Presley, who is out of Minor League options.

"I'm just trying to get better this spring and try to do what I need to do for the spring to be ready. I need to be ready to be the starter," Presley said. "But there are some improvements that need to be made. I'm looking to get better on certain things like stealing and stuff like that. I think we're moving in the right direction."

Presley, 28, played in 28 games with the Twins after the trade, hitting .283/.336/.363 with a homer, four doubles and a triple. But Presley, who has good speed, only stole one base in three tries and has just 20 stolen bases in 35 attempts in parts of four seasons in the big leagues.

"We got a good look at him last year," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The kid can hit. He's got a nice short swing and stays in on lefties. But one thing we talked about with him this winter was being more aggressive on the basepaths because he has speed."

The Twins are expected to have Hall of Famer Paul Molitor work with Presley on his baserunning this spring, as Molitor was added to the coaching staff this offseason. Presley said he's looking forward to learning from Molitor; improving his baserunning is one of his main goals this season.

"I imagine he'll have some good things to say, so I'll have my ears open," Presley said. "I'll listen to anything he tells me. He's definitely a welcome addition."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.