Hicks 'very much a consideration' for ALCS

Boone weighing options for Yanks' best-of-seven series roster

October 9th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Could return to the Yankees for the American League Championship Series? The center fielder certainly seems to think so.

Hicks told The Associated Press on Tuesday -- one day after the Yankees finished off their AL Division Series sweep of the Twins -- that he's "definitely ready to go out there and play."

"That’s really what I’m getting ready for, is to get back and play in the playoffs," Hicks said in Tampa, Fla., where he has been working out along with the rest of the Yankees’ postseason taxi squad. "Get back to playing baseball."

Hicks has been rehabbing a right flexor strain, and he took part in workouts on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, where he hit and threw indoors because of inclement weather. While Hicks has not played in a Major League game since Aug. 3, manager Aaron Boone said that Hicks’ inclusion on the ALCS roster is a topic up for discussion.

“He is very much a consideration,” Boone said. “He’s good physically. He obviously hasn't had the kind of reps or games that you'd like, but he has certainly put himself in a position to be considered.”

It's possible that the switch-hitting Hicks could replace someone like Cameron Maybin -- who homered in New York's ALDS-clinching Game 3 win -- as a reserve outfielder, or utilityman/pinch-running specialist Tyler Wade. First baseman Luke Voit was active for the ALDS, but he did not appear in any of the games against the Twins.

Boone acknowledged that “absolutely there’s trepidation” that Hicks has not faced big league pitching in more than two months. Hicks has been facing live pitching in Tampa, where he was throwing to bases.

“You could also see him filling a number of roles,” Boone said. “When he's healthy, he's a really good player and a really important player for us, an impact player. I could see him [doing] anything, from being in the lineup on a given game. I could see him being on our bench. I could also see us not ready to make that move yet because of not being fully worked back up.”

If the Yanks opt for a 13-man pitching staff, as Boone said they are entertaining, that could negatively affect Hicks’ chances of being carried on the roster.

Hicks played only 59 games in the regular season after his breakout 2018 campaign, for which he was rewarded with a seven-year, $70 million contract extension. The 30-year-old hit .235/.325/.443 with 12 home runs and a .769 OPS in '19.

Hicks watched the Yankees' series-clinching win with Rays catcher Travis d'Arnaud and his family at a restaurant in St. Petersburg.

"It's the second time that they celebrated without me, so it's one of those things that you just want to be part of it," Hicks said. "It is tough.”

Others working out in Tampa included outfielder Clint Frazier, first baseman Mike Ford, and pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Stephen Tarpley.

"I think all of us are ready to help if called upon," Frazier told the AP. "It's obviously a situation that you'd rather be there, but if we're called upon, I think any one of us is ready to go up there and contribute."

The ALCS begins Saturday, with the Yankees facing the winner of the Astros-Rays ALDS. If the Astros win, Game 1 of the ALCS will be in Houston. If the Rays win, the Yankees will host them in Game 1 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.