Notes: Boone 'taking it day to day' with Hicks

April 21st, 2021

NEW YORK -- can press the reset button on his season this week, as manager Aaron Boone wants the Yankees outfielder to take a deep breath and focus on making improvements to his game.

Off to an 8-for-50 (.160) start in his first 13 games this season, Hicks also committed a pair of defensive miscues in Sunday’s loss to the Rays, breaking late on a shallow liner and then booting a grounder on the next ball put in play. Boone said that Hicks may sit for Wednesday’s series finale.

“I’m just kind of taking it day to day right now,” Boone said. “The bottom line is, if we’re going to be the team we expect to be, Aaron Hicks is going to be right in the middle of that and play a huge role for us. Frankly, nothing has changed in my mind other than that he’s one of the guys that has gotten off to a slow start and would benefit from a day off.”

Boone has said that he continues to like the idea of batting Hicks third against right-handed pitching, pointing to his switch-hitting ability to add balance to the order and a patient, high on-base approach.

Brett Gardner assumed that spot in the order for Tuesday's series-opening 3-1 win over the Braves, filling in for Hicks as the center fielder. However, Hicks pinch-hit in the eighth inning, drew a walk and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Hicks’ promise for the No. 3 spot hasn’t materialized, with Hicks working five walks against 14 strikeouts in 56 plate appearances. Boone said that Hicks would work with hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere in the indoor batting cages on Tuesday.

“It’s really just more of a step back; it’s not going down there and doing 100 drills and hitting for hours,” Boone said. “That’s not the answer. It’s just really reminding him and getting him ready to lock in and focus on what truly are his strengths. He’s a bear. He’s going to be one of the poster children for the way we control the strike zone. He will get there.”

Ford back in the Bronx
Mike Ford was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate training site before Tuesday’s game, taking the roster spot vacated by Jay Bruce’s retirement on Sunday.

Ford started at first base on Tuesday, though Boone said that he still envisions using DJ LeMahieu frequently at first base on days when Rougned Odor plays second base.

“We’ve now entered a stretch of 13 games in a row,” Boone said. “There’s going to be a day [off] in there for Gio [Urshela], for Gleyber [Torres] and eventually for DJ. They’ll all kind of figure in that mix.”

Ford went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, but he added to the Yankees' eighth-inning lead by drawing a bases-loaded walk.

Ford produced just 10 hits in 74 at-bats (.135) over 29 games last season after a breakout 2019 campaign in which he slashed .259/.350/.559 and belted 12 homers in 50 games.

Thank you very much
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman offered a public vote of confidence during Monday’s off-day, expressing his belief that Boone and his coaches will pull the club out of its early-season doldrums. Boone didn’t necessarily covet a pat on the back, but he appreciated the kind words.

“We’re a close-knit organization that communicates at a high level,” Boone said. “We’re walking through these things and scenarios, talking through our roster and trying to get our guys in the best spot to go out and thrive. It was nice to see him go out there on an off-day and run to that, but I feel like as a staff, we’re unwavering in our belief that we’ll get this thing turned around.”

He said it
“We still have a lot of confidence. Every day is a new day to get better. I know it’s been a tough start, but I believe in my team and the talent we’ve got.” -- Urshela

Bombers bits
• LeMahieu received his 2020 Silver Slugger and Silver Bat Awards on Tuesday. LeMahieu hit a career-high .364/.421/.590 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs for New York last season.

• Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka celebrated his 31st birthday on Tuesday.

This date in Yankees history
April 20, 1988: Claudell Washington connected for the 10,000th home run in Yankees history, coming off the bench for a pinch-hit long ball in the ninth inning off the Twins’ Jeff Reardon. New York won, 7-6, in 10 innings at the Metrodome.