Aaron Hicks is engaged with a race against the clock as his nagging right elbow injury has kept him out for over a month. Manager Aaron Boone admitted to reporters recently that the center fielder’s rehab from the flexor strain in his throwing elbow is not progressing how the team would like.
“He was looking forward to throwing and starting to throw. He might get a second opinion to make sure. We feel good about where he is from an injury front, but it’s not getting to that point to where we’re able to advance him into baseball activities.”Aaron Boone, via Bryan Hoch (MLB.com)
Hicks was placed on the injured list Aug. 3 with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Both the team and the player have been adamant that Hicks will avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery, with Hoch also reporting the 29-year-old had “a dye-contrast MRI this week that revealed no new concerns with his ulnar collateral ligament.”
The Yankees have been using veteran Brett Gardner as their everyday center fielder in Hicks’ absence, which has worked out fine for the Yankees thanks to a resurgent second-half (.261/.333/.522 – 122 wRC+). That has left the Yankees to platoon righty Cameron Maybin and lefty Mike Tauchman in left field. They’ve also used Clint Frazier in the outfield, although sparingly given his well-known defensive deficienies.
Coming into the season, the Yankees planned to use a combination of Giancarlo Stanton in left field and Hicks in center field. That plan, obviously, has not worked as Stanton has suffered a significant knee injury and Hicks showed his proneness to injury again with the Spring Training back injury and current elbow injury.
Between those two ailments, Hicks slashed .235/.325/.443 (102 wRC+) with 12 homers and 36 RBIs while posting average baserunning and above-average defensive numbers in 59 games. Those numbers were hampered a bit by a very slow start in his return from the back strain, as he posted a slightly stronger .240/.325/.486 (111 wRC+) slash from June on.
It seems the Yankees must start to plan for Aaron Hicks’ postseason wardrobe being a hoodie rather than the pinstripes, which is a shame for a player they inked to a $70 million extension.