BALTIMORE – Aaron Hicks was back in the leadoff spot on Saturday night. It was the first time this season that the center fielder was leading and the ninth different lineup Aaron Boone has used this season.
“It’s happened so many times [because] There’s a man out,” Boone said of the change in his lineup. “Josh Donaldson was leading up there for a while against right-handers and he was out of the lineup … and the next day he was in it. There is a lefty so it looks a little different. So, I think as you progress, again, as you’re healthier, things get settled a little bit more, even more consistently.”
But Boone likes Hicks back in the lineup, especially since he’s got off to a good start. Hicks is down to .300/.417/.450 with a home run, two RBIs and four walks.
“I think he’s been great so far. He’s definitely getting his hits, he’s got to base like a big homer for us a few days ago. So, I think Winter for him Playing ball was valuable and helpful,” Boone said. “And it gave him a little bit of confidence going into the winter as far as getting a few game reps under his belt and making sure the wrists were good to go. And then in spring training, I thought it handled the volume well, and was really working and grinding and wanted to get a lot of those bats [he] can do. So, I think he is in a very good place.”
Hicks missed the most last season after undergoing wrist surgery. He lost time in 2019 with elbow issues that eventually required Tommy John’s surgery.
Before that, however, Hicks was a regular leadoff hitter. Saturday night was his 95th start in the leadoff spot.
That’s something Boone wouldn’t hesitate to do again.
“Probably, I mean, Hicks is one of those guys you feel good about a lot of places in the lineup,” Boone said of the Switch hitter. “So, yes, it is possible.”
Boone isn’t worrying about who will be available to him in two weeks. The Yankees will make their first visit to Toronto for the series starting in 16 days with the Canadian government’s COVID-19 travel rules not allowing any unaffiliated players for the series.
“I’m not,” said Boone as he worried about that trip. “But we’ll see. I have nothing to say on that yet. Although I don’t think it will be an issue.”
According to a recent report, the Yankees still have two players yet to be vaccinated. The A put only three players on the banned list, meaning they don’t have to pay them, and dropped them in the US before starting their series in Toronto.
According to Canadian rules, the night before the start of the Yankees series in Toronto, a player must receive his last dose of vaccine on Sunday to enter the country.
Matt Blake said he was surprised when close Aroldis Chapman threw his first pitch Friday night and it was only 93 mph, but the pitching coach looked closely and realized the 34-year-old was fine.
“He tries to do something sometimes and makes sure he throws the strike,” Blake said. “I think after the night before, he was being very careful. And his velocity fluctuated. He also scored 99.”
Chapman had a rough night in New York on Thursday, moving on loaded bases on 16 pitches, of which only four found the strike zone. He was hooked to Michael King, who got the Yankees out of the jam. On the night of Friday the 11th, Chapman was called in to clear the base-loaded jam and went on to win the race.
Close said he was feeling fine and Boone said he wasn’t worried about it.
“It’s going to fluctuate. I really thought his stuff was good. Even the fastball. The velocity was good. It looked like it was in that range between 94 and 98. But I felt That his stuff was too crisp,” Boone said. “And I really thought he threw the ball well after a hard out last night, apparently the night before where he really struggled. and didn’t really get into that good rhythm.
“I thought last night was very different and obviously the toughest position you can run in… but he was much cleaner and more competitive with his pitches last night.”