The New York Yankees have instituted a youth agenda to start the 2023 season, focusing on getting younger players opportunities. With Anthony Volpe taking over the starting shortstop job and Oswaldo Cabrera manning left field, the Bombers have sent some of their veterans to the bench, notably Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Aaron Hicks.
The Yankees started IKF in centerfield over Hicks on Sunday afternoon, which was certainly a surprise given the forfeiting of experience. However, Hicks, for the first time in a while, is questioning his role on the team and advocating for himself to play everyday reps, despite coming off two bad seasons.
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“I have no idea what my role is,” Hicks told The Athletic on Sunday morning. “It’s kind of uncertain.”
The Yankees don’t view Aaron Hicks as a starter any longer:
Hicks was abysmal in 2022, posting a .216 average with a .330 OBP, eight homers, and 40 RBIs across 130 games. At the very least, IKF fought to get reps at other positions, conceding the starting shortstop job to the team’s top prospect. Hicks doesn’t really seem to care, dropping multiple fly balls in spring training and showing a less-than-motivating attitude.
“I mean, yeah,” he said. “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 everyday, and it’s just what I want to do. I want to start. I really don’t know what else to say.”
Wanting to do something and deserving to do something are two entirely different things. Hicks hasn’t earned the right to every day starting reps, whereas Cabrera has fought his way and put in the work to win the starting left field job. After a slow start, Oswaldo posted two singles over four at-bats Sunday, contributing offensively while making a tough catch with the sun hiding the baseball.
It will be interesting to see how the Yankees get Hicks involved in the coming days, as manager Aaron Boone indicated that the veteran would start soon. However, his quotes and perspective are all about how he feels, not what he can do for the team and their best interests.
The difference between Aaron’s and IKF’s motives seem to be significant, with one wanting something for himself and the other doing whatever is best to help the club win games.