Hicks excited to compete against Twins

Hicks excited to compete against Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Aaron Hicks returned to his former workplace on Thursday afternoon, the outfielder paced through the corridors of Target Field and prepared a quip for a question he knew would eventually be posed.

"Do I miss this place? I mean, I liked the rent better," Hicks said, with a laugh.

Minneapolis and Manhattan aren't compared often, particularly when it comes to real estate values, but Hicks said that his four seasons patrolling the Target Field outfield in a Twins uniform helped him prepare for the challenges he is now facing in New York.

"As far as an organization and a team, I grew up through this organization," Hicks said. "I love this organization and the type of player that they helped me become. I'm excited to compete against them."

Acquired by the Yankees in a November swap for catcher John Ryan Murphy, Hicks is serving as the Yankees' fourth outfielder. He was expected to be a regular contributor against left-handed pitching, but he has not been able to gather much traction in the role.

Hicks, 26, entered play on Thursday batting just .221 (29-for-131) with a .276 on-base percentage, having hit two homers with 13 RBIs in 54 games. He had two hits and an RBI in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Rockies, and has compiled 10 hits in his last 32 at-bats after going 0-for-1 Thursday in the Yankees' 4-1 win.

"It's definitely not the way I wanted to start, but I feel like this past month I've been making strides," Hicks said.

The Twins' end of the deal has not worked out as anticipated, either; Murphy managed three hits in 40 at-bats (.075) and is currently playing with Triple-A Rochester. Hicks said that while he catches the Twins occasionally on TV, he isn't measuring himself against the player he was swapped for.

"Right now, I'm kind of worrying about me and what I've got to do to help this team win and stay consistent," Hicks said. "I'm excited to be able to play against my old team and just kind of see the guys again."

Worth noting

• Carlos Beltran's name was back in the Yankees' lineup on Thursday after he missed two games with inflammation in his left knee. Beltran had the knee drained in Denver and said that a cortisone injection helped his flexibility greatly.

"I've had knee injuries [in the past]," Beltran said. "Normally you don't recuperate real fast from knee injuries, so just being able to feel better in two days, for me, I feel good about it. The only way that I will know is being able to go out there, play the games and see how I respond."

• Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been impressed by the season that Eduardo Nunez is compiling with the Twins. The former Yankee entered play on Thursday batting .313 (70-for-221) with a .346 on-base percentage, nine homers and 24 RBIs in 56 games.

"He's having a great year and he's played all over the place," Girardi said. "He's moved around, he's hit for power, he's hit for average. You can make an argument that right now he's their All-Star candidate."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.