One of the few competitions in Spring Training belongs to Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks fighting to be the starting right fielder. And it’s no secret the Yankees view Judge as the favorite to win the competition.
But with the Spring that Hicks is having, he’s making it tough for the Yankees to automatically give Judge the job.
Hicks admitted he increased his workouts over the offseason with hopes of avoiding the bench for most of the 2017 season.
“It’s very hard,” Hicks said to the media last week. “It makes you think about the guys that come and play off the bench, it makes you think about them in a different way. Like [Ronald] Torreyes, he’s able to go so long without having that many at-bats and come off the bench and get two hits. It’s kind of amazing to me. It’s just a different game.”
Hicks had results that were little to be desired last season. He batted .217 with 31 RBI over the course of 2016. In fact, the Yankees used Hicks a lot in the beginning of the season, which led to fans complaining about the constant benching of veterans Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Hicks never performed at their level, which led to him seeing most of his time on the bench.
The front office acknowledged the task of coming off the bench is a hard feat.
“I know it’s harder for younger players to deal with it,” Yankees GM Brian Cahsman told the media. “First, it’s hard enough just to establish yourself at the highest level in baseball in the world, but then to do it in a sporadic way is even that much harder.”
Hicks proved he played better after getting more playing time. However, if he is forced into a bench role this season, he vows to find a better way to prepare himself for when the team is able to give him at-bats.
“I’d definitely have to switch something. What happened last year just didn’t work,” Hicks said. “I would have to find a new approach and be able to help this team win.”