Despite Brett Gardner’s grand-slam to put the Boston Red Sox to bed in a two-game series, the New York Yankees are missing their starting center fielder.
Gardner is batting a lowly .191 and struggling in center field in comparison to his more natural left field position. The injury to Aaron Hicks is truly showing its colors, as his replacements offensive production has been weak. Hicks existed spring training with a stiff back that has bothered him for several weeks.
New York Yankees: How has Aaron Hicks progressed?
Last Tuesday against Boston, Hicks hit off a tee and threw the ball around before the Yankees put the Sox down 8-0 in the Bronx. He’s working his way back towards a minor league spell and then eventually joining the starting team and relieving Gardner of his duties.
Next up on the docket for Hicks is live batting practice, which will present a different challenge for him as he engages his back muscles and works to overcome the ailment. Numerous cortisone shots have been administered in recent weeks to relieve the pain but have not completely healed the injury.
According to the New York Post, Hicks was expected to travel to Tampa this week but GM Brian Cashman insisted he stay with the Yankees until Sunday.
While Hicks rehabs, relief pitcher Dellin Betances is some time away from even throwing the ball. Betances is now thinking about a playoff push rather than returning in the first half of the season.
“Rest, ice, heat and working on the lower body,’’ Betances said regarding his daily schedule. “That’s about it. It’s difficult because I love to play, love to compete. It’s hard but at the same time be ready for the playoff push and beyond.’’
A bone spur in the back of his shoulder has halted his progress in returning this season, and it will take time for this ailment to heal. When he’s finally comfortable with the ball in his hands again, he will behind working through his pitching program. A major hit the bullpen, but younger options like Joe Harvey have stepped up in his absence.