Aaron Hicks still has not resumed baseball activities.
The center fielder, shut down since receiving a cortisone shot for a sore/stiff lower right back earlier this spring, is running out of time to be ready for Opening Day. The Yankees begin their regular season in less than two weeks.
“We’re getting close to that point where it’s going to be cutting it real close. It’ll be a decision. I feel pretty good about the fact that he’ll probably be ready by Opening Day, but there’s going to be a point where he needs to get the proper reps and built up, not just jam a bunch of at-bats down him,” Boone said. “Moreso running on and off the field, getting defensive reps, physical reps of playing. That’ll be more so the decision.”
CC Sabathia faced live hitters in a simulated game for the first time this spring Saturday morning. The big lefty threw 32 pitches 21 for strikes. He will likely pitch another simulated game this week.
“A good step for him, consistent with how he’s come along from the beginning. Every step has been a checkmark,” Boone said. “It was nice to see him. He got over 30 pitches, so onward and upward. Another positive day for him.”
Sabathia is coming off angioplasty in December, which slowed his rehab from routine knee surgery. The Yankees have moved slowly and cautiously with the 38-year-old this spring, but are confident he is healthy.
“We’re obviously monitoring him really closely so I know he’s in good hands and we’re watching him closely. I watch and try and pay attention to the knee as much as the heart. I feel like in my conversations with him since the start of all this, he’s in a good place,” Boone said “He’s trekking the right way and on pace to join us when we believe, maybe a couple of weeks in.”
He is expected to miss the first week or two of the regular season. Sabathia, who will retire after the season, also has to serve a five-game suspension from last September in April.
Jacoby Ellsbury is still scheduled to make his return Sunday. The outfielder has been in Arizona rehabbing from plantar fasciitis since spring training started.
“He should be here sometime in the morning, then he’ll have to roll through his physical stuff and all that,” Boone said.
It was just the latest setback for Ellsbury, 35, who still has two years and more than $42 million — plus a $5 million buyout — left on his contract.
He missed all of last season due to hip and foot injuries and wound up undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. He also missed a combined 72 games in 2015 and 2017, out with a sprained right knee in 2015 and a concussion in 2017.
It is too late for Ellsbury to appear in any Grapefruit League games. The Yankees plan on just introducing him back to baseball activities slowly.
“I think we’ll start getting him going with baseball activities and kind of see where he’s at and try to develop a plan as best as we can,” Boone said.