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Hicks, Presley still aiming to take center stage

Hicks, Presley still aiming to take center stage

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony didn't mince his words when assessing the center-field competition earlier this week.

Antony expressed disappointment in the performances of Alex Presley and Aaron Hicks, saying Wednesday that neither has stood out this spring.

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"Hicks hasn't been anything special this spring; neither has Presley in center field," Antony said. "So there's your center-field battle."

But Hicks responded with his bat since those remarks, going 1-for-2 with a stolen base against the Cardinals on Wednesday and 4-for-4 with a double against the Rays on Thursday to raise his batting average to .375 this spring.

Hicks said he's starting to feel more comfortable from both sides of the plate, and remains an important piece for the Twins, as he possesses the skills to be a plus-defender in center field and has demonstrated he can be a solid leadoff hitter throughout his career in the Minors with a .374 on-base percentage.

"Right now, I'm just trying to have good at-bats and do what I can to get ready for a long season," Hicks said. "I'm just trying to help the team win."

Presley, meanwhile, got the start in center field against the Mets on Friday, but entered the game hitting .161 in 13 games. The Twins have been working with Presley on his stolen base skills, but so far, he's been caught stealing three times in as many attempts.

But Presley is still expected to make the club as a fourth outfielder even if he loses out to Hicks, as Presley is out of Minor League options.

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.

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