The Yankees are officially one series into the 2023 regular season. You could say things are going pretty well right now. Homers are flying out of the yard from their big boppers, and they’re heading into a matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 2-1 record. Outfielder Aaron Hicks is already frustrated with his playing time, though. Or, we should really say his lack of playing time.
He didn’t start in any of New York’s three games against the San Francisco Giants. His only plate appearance of the year thus far ended in a strikeout. And even though Isiah Kiner-Falefa has made a living on the infield, he earned a start in the outfield before Hicks has. That might’ve been the last straw for him at the moment.
According to Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Hicks’ role for the club in 2023 would be “a little bit of everything”. Apparently, that message either hasn’t been effectively delivered to Hicks, or he’s just annoyed it’s not a little more defined.
Here’s what he had to say about it (all quotes via The Athletic):
I have no idea what my role is. It’s kind of uncertain.
I just want to play. I don’t want to come off the bench and face closers all day. I want to play the field, I want to play every day, and it’s just what I want to do. I want to start. I really don’t know what else to say.
Hicks also shared the following with Kuty:
…if you would have told me (in spring training) that I wouldn’t have started the first three games, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it is what it is. But there’s nothing I can do about it. Just sit around and wait for my opportunity and try my best.
None of this would be happening if the performance was there, of course. Between 2019 and 2022, the outfielder has hit .220/.334/.367 with 30 homers, 32 doubles, 111 RBI, and 136 runs scored across 1,045 plate appearances.
He came into spring training without a firm job but seemingly had the inside track to be the Opening Day left fielder. Hicks had a decent spring at the plate when looking at some of the surface numbers. He slashed .293/.408/.390 in 41 at-bats. However, it included just two extra-base hits and 14 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Oswaldo Cabrera — the dude who stepped in for Hicks at the end of 2022 — just had a much better spring. He hit .333/.390/.611 with seven extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts in 54 at-bats.
If the Yankees’ promotion of Anthony Volpe says anything, it’s that the guys who are performing the best are going to play. Hicks had an OK spring, but he didn’t build up enough goodwill in recent seasons to have a starting job handed to him. And credit to Cabrera, who just came in and took it (he’s started all three games in left field so far).
It’s certainly frustrating for any player to sit on the bench, especially when they’ve played every day for most of their career. It’s hard to get into a grove in that situation, but Hicks will just have to figure out how to do that with the opportunities he’s given.
Boone did say Hicks would probably be in the lineup the next couple of days. So, we’ll see if that actually happens and how it comes to fruition.
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You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.