Much has been made of the three-man competition that's likely to occur during Spring Training. Joe Benson, Darin Mastroianni and Aaron Hicks will all be in the mix to open the season as the Twins' center fielder. Most people have assumed that Mastroianni will end up in center on Opening Day with Hicks going to Triple-A and eventually earning the job.

Ron Gardenhire was on Talkin' Twins with Phil Mackey and Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN on Monday, however, and he had some strong praise for Hicks. Gardenhire made it clear that he's hoping Hicks takes the opening and runs with it::

"As I told Terry when all these things were going on -- Span, and then Revere ... the one thing I'd asked is that I just want to make sure that Aaron Hicks has the opportunity to come into Spring Training if we trade Span and end up trading Revere too ... I want the opportunity to give him a shot at my center field 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. 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 or he's not ready for this. I want to see what he can do ... It'll be interesting to see how Hicksky handles all of this. I think we've got to give him a really solid look here."