Aaron Hicks never got going in 2021. He started off the season hitting a dismal .194/.294/.333 with just four homers and a 78 OPS+ in 32 games. It didn’t help that his defense in center field took a dip as well. A week ago, the Yankees sent him to the injured with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, as he had been batting wrist discomfort for awhile and the culprit was revealed.
The Yankees had hoped that maybe Hicks’ wrist could heal with anti-inflammatory medicine, but on Friday afternoon, they announced that they were giving up the ghost. Hicks will indeed have surgery to fix the tear and will be out for “months” according to manager Aaron Boone. Given that this is a difficult injury to rehab and that there are only so many months left in the campaign, it’s hard not to envision this as anything but a season-ending procedure.
The most discouraging aspect of all this is the nature of the injury itself. Acknowledging that no two injuries or rehabilitations are truly identical, this all sounds awfully familiar to what happened with Mark Teixeira in 2013. He had a torn tendon sheath in his wrist repaired in July, and even when he returned to the team in 2014, the switch-hitter was a shell of the slugger he was in 2012, only managing a 101 OPS+. If you’re looking for hope, Tex did rebound to an All-Star 2015, so perhaps Hicks will get back to form one day, but I’m not particularly optimistic about his 2022. Ideally, he proves me wrong.
In the meantime, the Yankees have work to do on their outfield since they won’t be able to count on Hicks returning. Clint Frazier and Brett Gardner need to step up their production, and the team probably needs a real backup outfielder too because 1) Miguel Andújar and Tyler Wade can only fake it so much, 2) Estevan Florial isn’t ready, and 3) their minor league backups of Ryan LaMarre, Greg Allen, and Trey Amburgey are all hurt, too.
Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees were talking to the Rangers about Delino DeShields Jr., who isn’t especially exciting but is a good defensive outfielder and would be a fine Band-Aid. Hopefully, GM Brian Cashman will look to more serious upgrades as the team approaches the trade deadline, especially if Frazier and Gardner continue to scuffle.