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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 4/4/23

Hicks’ latest comments about role prompts response from manager; What Brito can learn from Cortes’ journey; Hamilton makes Yankees debut; Brief Yankee Jones to have number retired

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

CBS Sports | R.J. Anderson: It took Aaron Hicks one series before stirring the pot. In comments to The Athletic he expressed his frustration over having no idea what his role is, and now, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has been forced to respond. Boone claims that the specific matchups in the season opening series didn’t line up well for Hicks, and encouraged the veteran outfielder to remain ready for whenever his opportunity comes. Hicks made his first start of the season last night after failing to win the spring left field competition outright and heard boos multiple times from the Bronx crowd. Given that he has multiple years left on his contract, it appears likely that he will remain a Yankee regardless of the role available to him.

NJ Advance Media | Max Goodman: Ian Hamilton made his Yankees debut last night after having his contract purchased earlier in the day, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings. He was the inspiring story of the spring, earning a call-up to the majors after making eight appearances without allowing a run as a non-roster invitee. The 27-year-old endured eight surgeries to repair facial injuries sustained when he was hit in the face by a foul ball while with the White Sox Triple-A affiliate in 2019. Last night, he fed the heart of the Phillies lineup a steady diet of pitches known as the “Slambio,” a portmanteau of slider and “cambio” from the Spanish for changeup. It’s a changeup with slider movement, and it got whiffs in bunches throughout camp and last night.

Newsday | Anthony Rieber: Jhony Brito dazzled in his MLB debut on Sunday, tossing five scoreless innings to spur the Yankees toward their first series victory of the season. However, his impressive performance did not spare him from the at-times unfeeling machinations of roster churn, and he found himself optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Ian Hamilton. He can learn from those around him the value of taking everything in stride and continuing to improve so that he can capitalize on the next opportunity he is given.

Take Nestor Cortes, whose own up-and-down journey has led him to being a stalwart in the Yankees rotation fresh off the best ERA in a campaign by a Yankees starter since 1995. He looked decent in his first start of season, allowing a run over five innings and making a heads-up play to back up home plate that likely allowed him to go on and complete the outing to earn the victory. | Mark Bowman: The Braves announced that they will make the No. 25 worn by Andruw Jones the 11th retired number in franchise history, following Dale Murphy (3), Bobby Cox (6), Chipper Jones (10), Warren Spahn (21), John Smoltz (29), Greg Maddux (31), Phil Niekro (35), Eddie Mathews (41), Hank Aaron (44) and Tom Glavine (47). This is somewhat forgotten at this point, but Jones played the final two seasons of his career with the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, batting .220/.322/.447 with 27 home runs, 67 RBI, and a 108(!) wRC+ in 171 games during his mid-30s.

Jones finished his career with 434 home runs and is widely regarded as one of the greatest center fielders in history. He eclipsed the 50-percent mark in Hall of Fame balloting for the first time this round. He has seen his vote share steadily increase with each year, mirroring the track that eventually took Scott Rolen into the Hall, so perhaps a similar outcome awaits the longtime Brave.