The New York Yankees lost their center fielder Aaron Hicks to a wrist injury, presumably for the whole season. They were forced to play Aaron Judge at the position in one of the Tampa Bay Rays’ games, and manager Aaron Boone said it could be a recurring arrangement depending, of course, on his health and performance there.
Why are the Yankees moving so many things around to find solutions in center fielder? Because the most logical fit, Brett Gardner, has been struggling mightly at the plate.
The sample size is growing, so the Yankees can’t chalk up Gardner’s struggles to that entirely. The veteran outfielder is hitting .197 with four RBI, one stolen base and a .559 OPS in 122 at-bats.
Yet in Thursday’s 9-2 loss, he was able to a solo home run and a double before things unraveled. He finished the game 2-for-3 with the two extra-base hits.
The Yankees need Gardner to produce
Prior to the game, the Yankees’ outfielder said has been feeling good, and that he felt he was starting to turn things around.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Gardner said according to NJ Advance Media. “Just continuing to work at the plate. I feel like I’m really close to where I want to be at. Just things aren’t exactly clicking for me. Just continuing to work. Did some early work on the field (Wednesday).”
He was signed as a backup outfielder for the 2021 season, to a $1.85 million deal with an option.
“Just continue to show up every day ready to work with a positive mindset,” Gardner said, “knowing each day is a new opportunity and that things can turn around and change in this game in a hurry and as long as i’m here and have an opportunity, I’ll continue to work.”
Getting Gardner back into a groove would be huge for the Yankees. That way they could avoide playing Judge out of position and wait to see how the market for center fielders develops next month.