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Aaron Hicks said “it sucks” being sidelined by an injury again.
The Yankees outfielder was back with the team and on the field before Wednesday’s series finale against the Orioles for the first time since having season-ending wrist surgery.
“I mean it definitely sucks. Especially since at the beginning of the year I was pretty confident going into the year. I just started getting it going right before it happened,” Hicks said after watching batting practice. “It just sucks because I feel like in the past three years, I‘ve only played like 90 days or whatever. And it is all stuff that just happens over time. Tommy John kind of just happens over time. The wrist just happens over time and I just want to play.
“I just want to be out there and compete with my team and help them win and I’m not able to do so.”
Hicks has actually played 145 games over the last three seasons, including 54 in the 60-game COVID-19 abbreviated 2020 season. For the 31-year-old switch hitter and the Yankees that is disappointing after he signed a seven-year, $70 million extension in the spring of 2019.
That year he had his season cut short by Tommy John surgery. This year it was a tear to the sheath that covers the tendons in his left wrist, which required surgery.
His struggles to stay on the field has not only frustrated him, but sent the Yankees on a seemingly endless quest to find left-handed hitting and a center fielder.
They traded away their other center field option, Mike Tauchman, in April. Then Hicks went down in May. To plug that hole in center field, the Yankees have needed to use Brett Gardner — who turns 38 in 20 days — Aaron Judge and brought up prospect Estevan Florial. They’ve also used Greg Allen and Tim Locastro, who got hurt shortly after they traded for him.
Still the Bombers went into Wednesday night’s game with some of the worst offensive production from center field in the American League. They had the third worst OPS (.635), fewest RBI (30) and second to worst slugging (.323).
Without Hicks’ ability to hit from both sides of the plate with power, the already-righty heavy Yankees lineup was even more unbalanced. The Bombers had to go out and try to fix that at last week’s trade deadline, giving up prospects for lefty-hitting corner outfielder Joey Gallo and lefty-hitting first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
But Hicks is fairly confident that he will be back in the mix and in the lineup next season. He is currently doing mobility therapy on his wrist, which is still in an air cast. He said there was really no question he had to have the surgery.
“I literally couldn’t even hold [a bat]. It was a pretty, pretty easy decision,” Hicks said. “Especially with all the information that I had, it was hard just to do simple things at the beginning, but once the inflammation went down and was able to kind of get the mobility back and start to do stuff like that but as soon as I tried to start hitting it just start acting up again.”
He had been dealing with pain in his wrist off-and-on for the past three years until one swing and it went snap.
“Just one swing,” Hicks said. “I took one swing. It was right before I hit a sacrifice fly and it kind of just kind of went a little bit numb on me. And then, I ended up swinging again and that was pretty much the end of that.”
But he has been sure the wrist will be back to normal and he should be able to have a fairly regular offseason to work out and get ready for 2022.
“I should be strong enough to start the offseason kind of normal,” Hicks said. “Hopefully get the strengthening up a little bit and kind of see where it goes from there.”