Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks announced this morning that he’s giving up switch-hitting and will bat exclusively right-handed from now on, following in Shane Victorino’s footsteps last season for the Red Sox.
Hicks has been switch-hitting since little league and bristled at the idea of changing as recently as spring training, but he’s always been much more productive as a right-handed hitter facing left-handed pitching. For his big-league career–which is a relatively small sample of 118 games–he’s hit .179 with a .546 off righties compared to .227 with a .735 OPS off lefties.
However, it should be noted that his production off lefties thus far has involved Hicks having the platoon advantage, which he won’t have when facing righties as a right-handed hitter. Still, given how lost Hicks has looked from the left side of the plate it’s hard to imagine the move not improving his overall production.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.