Hicks haunts old club as Yanks top Twins

Hicks haunts old club as Yanks top Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Aaron Hicks had an RBI and an outfield assist against his former team, while Minor League outfielder Cesar Puello hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to lift the Yankees to a 6-4 win over the Twins on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.

Hicks, who was traded for catcher John Ryan Murphy during the offseason after playing with the Twins for parts of three seasons, went 0-for-1 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. He also threw out Eddie Rosario at third base as he tried to tag up from second to end the fourth inning. Murphy also played well against his former club, recording a walk, an RBI and a run scored.

Box score

"It was a lot of fun," Hicks said. "To see the guys again, to see the staff, everybody from the guy out front at the gate to the coaches and staff of Minnesota. It was a lot of fun, especially competing against the guys I came up with and played with last year."

Right-hander Ivan Nova, who is competing for a rotation job, started for the Yankees, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. Fellow right-hander Ervin Santana made the start for the Twins, giving up four runs (three earned) on two hits and three walks over five innings.

"They're going to make the decision whenever they feel ready. They've got to make the decision," Nova said. "I've got to take it day by day and keep working hard. Hopefully I'll do better the last two times than this one today and see what happens at the end."

Nova strikes out Park

The Twins opened the scoring in the second, coming on RBI groundouts from Eduardo Escobar and Murphy after loading the bases with nobody out.

But the Yankees took the lead with a three-run third, keyed by an error from Miguel Sano, who is making the transition to right field. With two on and nobody out, Sano tried to catch a line drive down the right-field line, but it went off his glove for an error to load the bases. Santana then walked Brett Gardner to bring home the first run before Hicks added a sacrifice fly and Brian McCann brought home a run with a groundout.

New York added another run in the fifth on a mental mistake from Santana, as he balked with a runner at third base and two outs. The last time Santana balked during the regular season was 2011.

"It was my fault," Santana said. "I wasn't happy. But other than that everything was good. I was on the same page the rest of the game. Those things happen."

Gamel scores on a balk

Minnesota tied the game in the bottom half of the inning, however, as Murphy led off with a walk before Byron Buxton doubled off the wall in left-center. Joe Mauer brought home both with a single to right.

Puello, who was signed as a Minor League free agent this offseason, gave the Yankees the lead for good with his solo homer in the eighth off reliever J.R. Graham. New York added an insurance run on an RBI double from Eddy Rodriguez.

Puello's solo home run

Up next for the Yankees: The Yanks will enjoy their final off-day of the spring on Monday and return to action Tuesday evening under the lights at George M. Steinbrenner Field, hosting the Mets for a 6:35 p.m. ET contest. Right-hander Luis Severino (1-0, 3.75 ERA) will make his third spring start and fifth appearance as he tries to lock up his spot in the rotation.

Up next for the Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson is set to start for the Twins on Monday, when they host the Pirates at 12:05 p.m. CT at Hammond Stadium. Gibson, making his fourth appearance of the spring, is expected to throw five innings or 75 pitches. Others expected to throw include closer Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Trevor May and Taylor Rogers.

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