TAMPA — Aaron Hicks needed a cortisone shot in his lower right back Monday and will be out another “three to four days,” the Yankees center fielder said Tuesday afternoon. He is not yet worried about this carrying into the regular season.
“Something like this, it’s been lingering, so we gotta do something about it,” Hicks said before Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “I think at least by me getting it, I’ll probably lose like three or four days and get on the field after that.
“As of right now, I don’t know when I get in there.”
The 29-year old, who signed a seven-year $70 million extension last week, said that he was not worried about being ready for Opening Day.
“If I need to get at-bats I can go down to the minor league side and do that, but I feel pretty good today, no pain is a big thing for me as far, you know especially when it comes to swinging,” Hicks said. “Until I start doing something like that is when I will know for sure.”
And that’s the issue. While Aaron Boone and the Yankees have maintained they are not “overly concerned,” with Hicks injury and continue to insist they “have the time,” for him to get ready, they need him to get back on the field.
So, far, when Hicks has tried to do things, he has had pain and discomfort.
Hicks has been out of the lineup since experiencing soreness/stiffness in a game March 1. He had an MRI and saw a doctor on Mar. 4 and has been limited to treatment for most of that time. He has attempted baseball activities several times, but has been restricted.
“Throwing was a big issue and then hitting is obviously is with even more torque,” Hicks said. “A lot of things. It all depends on what I am doing that day.”
Hicks is a critical piece to the Yankees lineup. He is their only switch hitter, and he does it with power from both sides of the plate. He can hit any place in the lineup from leadoff to cleanup.
Over the last two seasons, Hicks posted a .838 OPS with a .368 on-base percentage. He is just one of eight American League players to reach both of those marks with at least 200 games played, joining Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, Alex Bregman, Aaron Judge, J.D. Martinez, Jose Ramirez and Mike Trout.
Last season Hicks hit .248/.366/.467 last season with 27 home runs and 79 RBI last season. He set career-highs in runs scored (90), hits (119), extra-base hits (48), RBI and walks (90). He also set a career high with a 4.9 WAR, which was third among all center fielders.
With a lineup that is so heavy with right-handed hitting sluggers, Hicks being able to hit with power from both sides of the plate is critical.
His importance to the lineup is one reason the Yankees pushed to get the seven-year extension with Hicks. While a good deal for the Yankees in terms of giving them a $10 million annual average value, it was a risk with his history of injuries.