Girardi said gauging when Hicks will be back with the Yankees is "hard to say" because he is a switch-hitter, and thus needs to feel strong from both the left side and the right side. He has been on the 10-day disabled list with a right oblique injury since the end of June.
Making that return all the more uncertain is the nature of the injury. Much of a hitter's strength when he swings comes from his obliques. Feeling fine during hitting drills doesn't require as much force as stepping in the batter's box and trying to catch up to an upper-90s fastball.
"My concern with rib-cage strains is they might feel good, but all of a sudden, do [hitters] feel like they can let it go with their strength behind it?" Girardi said.
Hicks said he feels good with where he is right now, and he is expected to start taking on-field batting practice sometime this weekend.
"I feel good," Hicks said. "It's a waiting game. It's a lot of strengthening those muscles with a lot of core work. It's pretty much just patience."
Hicks was having a breakout season for the Yankees before landing on the DL. He was batting .290/.398/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs in 60 games played.
Austin was placed on the 10-day DL on June 29 with a right hamstring strain. He has been taking batting practice in the cages, fielding grounders and running for a few days. So far, he said, he feels great, although he said it's taken longer to recover than he would've liked.
"It's longer than I hoped it would be, but it's part of it," Austin said. "We've got to get it right and hopefully I won't have anymore problems with it."
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.