There has never been any question about the talent of Aaron Hicks. So it was no surprise on Tuesday night when the outfielder sent the ball over the right field wall for his first home run of the season. Hicks has always had the ability and power that charmed the Yankees.
It’s just about his ability to stay on the field.
After missing much of the 2021 season due to a torn ligament sheath in his wrist, Hicks is back to show that he can be a big contributor to this team. So far, Hicks has hit in all but one of the Yankees’ five games this season, hitting .308/.438/.538 with .976 ops.
“I think he’s still finding his way, but the good thing about it, he’s getting on base,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “He’s getting his hits. It’s really nice to see him go right-handed to the other. It’s something that’s in his game, especially here. I don’t think he even felt like he got it, but He snatched it from there. So nice to see. Obviously, last season was a lost year for him. I know he has worked really hard in the winter, going to play winter ball, but physical is also preparing himself. Have given.
“And set the tone aggressively for us today with a big first hit.”
Hicks’ first homer of the season was in the second inning, his first at-bat off Blue Jays lefty Usei Kikuchi.
“I didn’t know,” Hicks said of the 365-footer. “I mean I knew I hit it well, but I didn’t think it was going to go out. I thought maybe I could get off the wall or at least make a sacrifice [fly],
Instead, it went over the wall and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead. For the first time this season, the Bombers have scored the first score in a game.
It’s a relief for Hicks after years of struggle. Since signing a seven-year, $70 million deal in the spring of 2019, Hicks has played only 145 games in three seasons due to injuries that included surgery on Tommy John and wrist surgery last season. This has opened doors to questions about his future here.
But Hicks made a commitment to come back this winter. This included going to the Dominican Republic to play in their winter league. Hicks feels it has helped him get off to a strong start this season.
“I’m just trying to go out there and play now. Just play and enjoy the moment and enjoy what I’m doing,” Hicks said. “And just take it day by day. Really trying not to think too much about it. But you know, playing in DR has definitely helped a lot, and being able to get into spring training and then especially short spring training, but I felt really comfortable when I was in DR. So now I’m playing my first doubles game. I like it.”
If Hicks can maintain his health and stay on the field, his ability to replace hits and hits with power will help the offense he struggled last season. Boone thinks this is already a better offense and Hicks agrees.
“I mean I feel like the team was more base-to-base in the past. This team is going from first to third. People are moving on,” Hicks said. “People still hit with power. But it’s definitely something that’s different from previous years.”
On Tuesday night, Hicks even had to put up a slightly different defense. Against lefty Kikuchi, the Yankees seated left-handed hitter Joey Gallo and used Giancarlo Stanton in right field. He moved Aaron Judge to the center and Hicks to the left, a position he had not played in a major league game since September 29, 2017.
“Like my first route, it was a little shaky in the beginning,” Hicks said with a smile. “But I mean, when I started getting a little more comfortable from there. It was fine, the four-man outfield messed me up. But overall, I think it was great, very good.”