Hicks available off bench for Game 3
Boone 'would not hesitate' to deploy OF; Severino responds to Pedro's comments
NEW YORK -- Aaron Hicks continues to sense improvement in his tight right hamstring, and though he was not in the lineup for tonight's Game 3 of the American League Division Series at home against Boston, manager Aaron Boone said the switch-hitter will be available off the bench.
Boone added that the outfielder is more of an option to play tonight than he was for Saturday's Game 2. Hicks went through an extensive workout with strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause on Monday afternoon, running patterns and high-stepping in right field at Yankee Stadium.
"It was a much harder decision today. He fought me today," Boone said. "Frankly, he looked considerably better when he went through his stuff outside. He's even more of an option tonight, and I would not hesitate to use him, and not just in a pinch-hitting role, but in the game."
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Hicks said on Sunday that he felt "pretty much normal" after having been instructed to drink plenty of fluids, which he has dutifully done in an attempt to speed his return.
"They've been trying to get me hydrated, so every single day I've been peeing like crazy," Hicks said, drawing laughter from a crowd of reporters. "I've been pretty much eager to get on the field and play in these games. These are meaningful games, and I want to be out there with my team."
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Hicks exited in the fourth inning of the Yankees' Game 1 loss on Friday at Fenway Park after he jogged gingerly down the first-base line on a single to right field. An MRI taken on Saturday revealed no strain. Brett Gardner has started in Hicks' place.
"I just felt like there is some benefit, just with the nature of hamstrings and the fact that we have Brett Gardner as a player," Boone said. "I just felt like it was the best thing to do. I feel like he's in a pretty good spot."
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Hicks had a similar issue with his left hamstring late in September, forcing him to exit a Sept. 24 game at Tropicana Field. He was able to return to the lineup on Sept. 28 against Boston.
"With a guy where his legs are really important, playing in the middle of the diamond, center field, it's different than when Giancarlo [Stanton] was going through it," Boone said. "[Stanton] can kind of govern himself a little bit more. It's a little more difficult when you're playing in the middle of the diamond and your legs are a big part of what you do."
Luis Severino has credited Pedro Martinez with helping to refine his mechanics prior to the 2017 season, but the Yankees' ace balked at the Hall of Famer's on-air report that Severino had been pitching with an injury during the second half of this season.
"I don't know where he got that, but I didn't say [anything] about I was hurt," Severino said. "If you hear that from Yankees' staff or something like that, maybe you can believe it, but I don't know where you get that from. Like I always say, I care about my arm and being healthy. So I'm not going to go out there and compete if I'm not healthy."
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Martinez made the comments on TBS prior to last week's AL Wild Card Game between the Yankees and Athletics. Severino was 14-2 with a 2.12 ERA through 19 starts, then went 3-5 with a 6.97 ERA in his next 10 starts beginning July 12.
"He went through a little bad stretch, which everybody goes [through]," Martinez said. "And I didn't know until I finally spoke to Severino that Severino wasn't totally healthy, and they could not afford to stop him from pitching. So that ended up affecting the Cy Young type of season that he was having, and at the same time affecting his performance when they needed him the most."
Hicks had company in the office of head athletic trainer Steve Donohue on Sunday afternoon. Didi Gregorius continued to receive treatment on his right wrist, which the shortstop injured on a slide into home plate on Sept. 22, scoring the run that secured the Yankees' Wild Card berth.
Gregorius was diagnosed with a cartilage tear and received a cortisone injection that permitted him to return to the field Sept. 28 against Boston.
"It's going really good. I've had a lot of improvement, so it's feeling way better than a couple days before," Gregorius said.