May 13: The Yankees announced that Hicks has been reinstated from the injured list. To clear a spot on the roster, fellow outfielder Mike Tauchman has been optioned to Triple-A.
The Yankees’ total count of players on the injured list won’t decrease, however, as the team announced that scheduled starter Jonathan Loaisiga has been scratched and placed on the 10-day IL due to a strained right shoulder. In his place, righty Chance Adams has been called up from Triple-a.
May 12: The Yankees will activate center fielder Aaron Hicks from the injured list Monday, manager Aaron Boone announced (via James Wagner of the New York Times). It’ll be a long-awaited return for Hicks, who has been on the shelf since early March with lower back issues.
Hicks’ injury was one of the earliest hits the Yankees took amid an absurd run of early season ailments. Since Hicks went down, the Yankees have dealt with key injuries to fellow foundational players in Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Miguel Andujar and Dellin Betances, among others. Even though the Yankees have largely been without everyone from that group and haven’t been able to simultaneously deploy their top outfielders – Hicks, Judge and Stanton – the club has still stormed to a 23-16 record.
The Yankees were 90-plus-win title contenders in each of the previous two seasons, thanks in no small part to Hicks, who broke out in 2017. The former Twin, 29, combined for 8.2 fWAR over 942 plate appearances the past two years on the strength of a .255/.368/.470 line (127 wRC+), solid defense and quality baserunning. The switch-hitting Hicks’ 2017-18 output led to a seven-year, $70MM extension from the Yankees in late February, but he hasn’t taken a big league at-bat since reeling in that payday.
With Hicks set to man center upon his return, veteran Brett Gardner will return to the corner outfield. Gardner has struggled mightily over the past couple weeks, though, and could be in line for reduced playing time with in-season pickup Cameron Maybin playing well and fellow recent addition Mike Tauchman performing better than expected. Clint Frazier has been the most effective regular of the bunch this year, but like Gardner, he has been mired in a slump of late.