When the Twins traded outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere, common sense says Darin Mastorianni would be the favorite to roam center for the 2013 season simply based on his major league experience and ability to play the position.
Following the Span and Revere trades, general manager Terry Ryan spoke about an open competition at center field between Mastorianni, Aaron Hicks and Joe Benson.
While this may be the case, manager Ron Gardenhire may have showed his hand on who he’d like to see starting. While speaking on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, Gardenhire boasted about rising prospect Hicks, while briefly acknowledging Mastroianni.
Here is the transcript from the 1500 website:
“You know that (Darin Mastroianni) can probably do it,” Gardenhire said on 1500 ESPN’s Talkin’ Twins Show Monday night. “But as I told Terry, when all these things were going on — Span and then Revere — we talked about it, if he trades this guy, what are you going to do here? … If he trades both of them, what are you going to do?
“The one thing I asked Terry, I just want to make sure that Aaron Hicks has the opportunity to come into spring training — if we trade Span, and we end up trading Revere too, and this was (said) way before (those trades) — I said I want the opportunity to give him a shot at my centerfield job.
“This kid can run it down, he’s got a cannon, he’s a very talented kid, he had a heck of a year at Double-A,” Gardenhire said. “Who knows if he’s ready offensively? But I don’t want to go into spring training saying he has no chance to be here, he’s not ready for this. I want to see what he can do… I think we’ve got to give him a really solid look here.”
Being the favorite does not guarantee you the job, but having support from your manager can’t hurt.
If Hicks performs at least as well as Mastorianni in spring training, he will be in better position to earn the starting job. The organization would prefer Hicks get regular playing time and Mastroianni suits well as a fourth outfielder and defensive replacement in late innings for corner outfielders Josh Willingham and Chris Parmelee.