New York Yankees OF Aaron Hicks begins throwing program

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run against Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros during the first inning in game five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2019 in New York City.

After having Tommy John surgery last fall, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks is taking the next step in his recovery process. 

Heading into this season, fans expected the New York Yankees to be without Aaron Hicks for the majority of the campaign. He was slated to return to the majors sometime this summer after having Tommy John surgery in October.

But in spite of MLB’s hiatus, the Yankees have announced some positive news involving their veteran outfielder.

On Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone confirmed to members of the media that Hicks has begun a throwing program at his home in Arizona.

For the Yanks, this means that there’s still a chance for Hicks to have a significant impact in 2020. The 30-year-old would’ve previously missed around the first 60 games of the regular season, at least.

But with Opening Day pushed back, Hicks could potentially be ready to play whenever it’s safe for baseball to return. Currently, most league executives are preparing for the season to start sometime in June or July.

If that occurs, then the Yankees could play the 6-foot-2 outfielder in center field to begin the year. Furthermore, he could also start showing that he deserves the seven-year, $70 million extension he signed prior to last season.

Since the Yanks awarded Hicks that long-term deal, he’s spent more time on the injured list than the actual field. In 2019, the switch-hitter played in just 59 games and hit 12 home runs with 36 RBI’s, a .208 ISO, .286 BABIP, 102 wRC+, and 1.1 fWAR rating. He additionally put up a slashing line of .235/.325/.443/.769 over his 255 plate appearances.

In addition, Hicks only played 499.1 innings in center field. He produced a -1 DRS, -2 OAA, 0.6 UZR, and 0.8 UZR/150 last season.

Once the 2020 campaign resumes, the Yankees could possess a crowded outfield. If Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Hicks are all healthy, then it may become difficult to find playing time for Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier.

As a result, New York may have to utilize Frazier’s final minor-league option this season. There’s still a slight chance that the young outfielder could break camp with the major league squad though.

Unless the Commissioner’s Office cancels the 2020 campaign, Hicks will likely either miss a handful of regular-season games or be ready for Opening Day. In the meantime, he’ll look to continue his rehab as we wait for this crisis to pass.

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