Posted on May 12, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Slowly but surely the New York Yankees are starting to get healthy, as things are looking up in the Bronx. The likes of Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar have already returned from early-season stints on the Injured List. Up next appears to be outfielder Aaron Hicks. The Yankees plan to activate Hicks on Monday, allowing him to make his season debut when the Bronx Bombers begin a home series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Soon after signing a 7-year, $70 million extension with the Yankees, Hicks went down with a back injury in early March. He’s been diagnosed with chronic back pain and has received two cortisone shots to help him manage the pain. Yankees manager Aaron Boone confirmed that unless something unexpected happened on Sunday that Hicks would be back in New York on Monday.
Despite missing more than six weeks of the season, Hicks played in just five minor league rehab games on his way back to the majors. He was supposed to play in another rehab game on Sunday but it was rained out. During those five games, Hicks was just 3 for 18. However, all three of those hits, two doubles and a home run, came on Saturday, indicating that he’s ready to rejoin the Yankees.
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“Certainly, timing wise, he’s in the process of getting there,” Yankees triple-A manager Jay Bell said of Hicks after Saturday’s game. “Just seeing balls off the batt and that kind of stuff. He’s going to be fine.”
Hicks figures to be an important addition to the Yankees, especially with so many players still on the IL. He followed up a breakout season in 2017 with a 2018 campaign that was nearly as good in which he was asked to play a much larger role on the team. Hicks started 129 games in center field last season. He should take over duties at that position upon his return, pushing Brett Gardner back to left field after deputizing for Hicks early in the season.
To their credit, the Yankees have survived the absence of Hicks, as well as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in their outfield. Gardner has struggled offensively as well, making the absence of the others more noticeable. But Clint Frazier has provided a lot of production, hitting .290 with an OPS of .840. Cameron Maybin has also provided a surprising spark while Mike Tauchman has been a solid complementary player.
However, one of those three will likely lose their spot on the roster when Hicks is activated on Monday. In the long-run, the Yankees will be better off for it. Hicks showed last year that he’s an important part of the winning formula for New York, both offensively and defensively. His return means another piece of the puzzle is in place. With so many key players still on the IL, getting Hicks back should provide the Yankees with a big lift as they try to survive all of their injuries inside the compeititve AL East.