BOSTON — Aaron Hicks may be finding his way back. After basically losing two seasons to injuries the outfielder is just starting to put it all back together. Friday night, Hicks doubled, had two hits, and scored two runs. It was his third straight multiple-hit game as he is beginning July on fire.
The 32-year-old is slashing .450/.542/.1.000 over his last six games with two homers and a 1.542 OPS. He’s emerging as another offensive weapons for the Bombers.
“Huge. You look up there now and even on the balance of the season he’s getting on base. Now I feel like right handed, he’s been that threat kind of all year,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And now he’s, I feel like really starting to gain some steam from the left side, which is huge. Gives us that balance. I feel like he’s played really well in left field and obviously the ability to play center too. That’s huge if he can step up and continue to do this because he’s a presence.”
Hicks, who is slashing .240/.357/.350 with a .707 OPS and five homers this season overall, has not really been a presence for the last few years because of injuries.
After signing a seven-year, $70 million extension in the spring of 2019, Hicks played 145 games over the next three seasons — including the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season. He had back issues and ultimately suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing arm) in 2019, which required Tommy John surgery. Last season he got into May, but had to be shut down after 32 games because of a torn sheath around a ligament in his wrist.
It has led to some frustrations on the part of the organization and the fans, because with the inconsistent play has come inconsistent results.
That was the case in May, when Hicks swooned. He hit .127/253/.141 with a .394 OPS and no home runs in 24 games. It began to affect his playing time. He got moved from center field to left field, which he admitted was a pretty big adjustment for him.
But last month he started to turn it around and with Giancarlo Stanton playing more games in the field and now adding Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez to the outfield mix, Hicks is trying to establish a bigger presence in the Yankees lineup.
He hit .247/.356/.364 with a .719 OPS and two home runs in June to start to get more playing time and now he’s starting to get into a rhythm.
And in just the last three games, Hicks has nearly doubled his home run total for the year. With five home runs this season, just past the halfway mark, he is just one shy of his total for all of 2021.
It’s not a fluke, it’s been a lot of extra hard work.
Hitting coach Dillon Lawson and Hicks spent weeks working before batting practice on getting his bat to stay in the zone longer and to get more of a launch with the ball. The Yankees wanted him concentrating on hitting the ball from left-center to right field more.
He’s started to put that together and the Yankees like what they’ve seen lately.
“I would say it’s more the last month where he’s gained a little bit of traction. One thing he’s done is he’s gotten on base even when he’s struggled a little bit, he’s been able to get on base a little bit,” Boone said. “It’s really good to see him get those kinds of swings off left handed. Right handed it feels like he’s popped some balls. But he’s had some big hits for us though from the left side, the home or in Minnesota to get a big base hit and in Minnesota the home or off the Astros left handed.
“So he started to string together some impactful left-handed bats, which is good to see,” Boone added. “That’s the thing that was kind of lacking those first two months, he’s starting to hit the ball harder from that side.”