It was simply 12 video games, however they have been sufficient to let Aaron Hicks know he was good to go.
After shedding many of the 2021 season because of wrist surgical procedure, the Yankees heart fielder made the choice to go to the Dominican Republic in late November to play with Leones de Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.
Hicks piled up 53 plate appearances in a vigorous ambiance and completed what he got here for.
“Getting back into playing, competing, seeing pitches,” Hicks stated of his causes for taking part. “Ultimately, the most important thing for me was seeing pitches and being able to adjust to velocity again.”
About 4 months later, Hicks can really feel his offseason tour paying off.
Entering Wednesday’s recreation in opposition to the Blue Jays, Hicks had recorded successful in every of his 4 begins, together with a two-run residence run that obtained the Yankees on the board in Tuesday’s 4-0 win.
For a participant who could possibly be attempting to make up for lost time — he played simply 32 video games final season earlier than present process surgical procedure for a torn sheath in his left wrist — Hicks has additionally proven the persistence on the plate he is thought for at his finest, drawing three walks via his first 16 plate appearances.
“I feel like he’s still finding his way, but that’s the good thing about it — he’s getting on base, he’s getting his hits,” supervisor Aaron Boone stated. “It’s nice to see Aaron, with a lost season last year for him, I know he’s really worked hard in the winter, going to play winter ball, but physically getting himself ready. He played a lot in spring training. He was taking a lot of at-bats, even on the days he wasn’t playing so he’d be ready to go. He’s come in and really contributed.”
Hicks, who was additionally restricted to 59 video games in 2019 due to a again pressure and a proper flexor pressure that finally required Tommy John surgical procedure, isn’t essentially fascinated with proving that he’s all the best way again. It will take greater than 5 video games to try this this season.
Instead, Hicks — in the fourth year of a seven-year, $70 million contract — is protecting his mindset easy.
“I’m just trying to go out there and play right now,” Hicks stated. “Just play. Enjoy the moment, enjoy what I’m doing and take it day by day. I’m not really trying to think too much about that. Me going and playing in the DR definitely helped that a lot.”
Hicks estimated that it took about 5 video games in the Dominican Republic for him to really feel comfy together with his wrist once more. He needed to take stable hacks and swing exhausting and see how his wrist would reply.
With the winter league cameo proving useful each bodily and mentally, Hicks is providing early hope that he could be an vital piece of the Yankees’ lineup on a constant foundation.
“He’s a tough at-bat,” DJ LeMahieu stated. “He doesn’t chase pitches, he can do damage on pitches that are over the plate. When he’s in a rhythm, it seems like he’s always on base, always doing damage. That’s how he’s looked the last couple games, for sure.”
The 32-year-old Hicks has gotten at some point off via the Yankees’ first six video games, with 4 begins in heart discipline and one in left — his first recreation there since 2017. With Brett Gardner now not in the image to offer insurance coverage in heart — and Aaron Judge in a position to begin there often — Hicks’ dependability turns into much more vital.
“To have a guy that can not only be a contributor but have an impact, as a switch hitter offensively playing that position, is huge,” Boone stated. “We’ve seen Aaron put together long stretches of being a really consistent guy that gets on base. He’s off to a good start in that way and just want to make sure he continues it.”