NEW YORK -- When Aaron Hicks received a second opinion on his injured right elbow, he was told that he needed surgery to correct a damaged ulnar collateral ligament. After returning to play in the Yankees’ American League Championship Series loss to the Astros, the outfielder has decided to follow that advice.
Hicks has been scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on Oct. 30, and he is expected to require eight to 10 months for a full recovery, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Thursday. The procedure will be performed in Los Angeles by Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who provided Hicks with that second opinion in early September.
“[Hicks] played a great force in the postseason, but once it ended [for us], there was the feeling of, ‘There’s something here that’s still not right,’” Cashman said. “The follow-up doctor exam led to the ultimate decision that we’ve got to get this thing fixed or it’s just going to blow in February, March or April.”
In addition, Cashman said that right-hander Masahiro Tanaka had arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow, a procedure that was performed by Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
First baseman Luke Voit also had surgery to repair his bilateral core muscle injuries, a procedure performed by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia. Tanaka and Voit are expected to be ready for the beginning of Spring Training.
Tanaka pitched a full season in 2019, with a pair of excellent starts in the playoffs, including six scoreless, one-hit innings to beat the Astros in Game 1 of the ALCS. Cashman said that the bone spurs were identified as part of Tanaka’s routine end-of-season MRI, and are not related to any further damage to the pitcher’s ulnar collateral ligament, which he injured in 2014.
“It’s status quo on the ligament,” Cashman said. “From my perspective, his maintenance was routine. ... There wasn’t anything where, start to start, [we’d have to ask] “What are we going to get here?’ and you’re holding your breath and hoping that something doesn’t go wrong. It wasn’t like that at all.”
Hicks’ timetable puts the window for his tentative return somewhere between next June and August, meaning that the Yankees’ offseason planning will include identifying their Opening Day center fielder.
One option could be to bring back Brett Gardner, who enjoyed a career year at age 36 and is a potential free agent. Gardner earned $7.5 million this past season. Cashman said that the Yankees plan to hold their free agent and pro scouting meetings beginning on Monday.
“He had a tremendous season on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, including playing center field,” Cashman said. “If the main question is, can he handle planning center field in 2020, both offensively and defensively? I don't think there’s any question, based on the performance he put forth this year and last year.”