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The other Aaron: Yankees’ Hicks discusses competition in outfield this spring

 

If Aaron Judge hopes to receive the starting right field gig in New York, the 24-year-old rookie will be forced to outlast his adversary this spring.

That task isn’t out of reach, and 27-year-old Aaron Hicks knows it.

“Of course, I want to be the starter,” Hicks told NJ Advance Media at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday. “I mean, the position’s open. Whoever wants it is going to get it. It’s all about having a great spring training. Of course it humbles you. In the offseason, that’s kind of where you generate it back. You start it back up. You start hitting again. You start working on your swing.”

Much like Judge’s debut with the Yankees, Hicks failed to find his groove at the plate in 2016. After New York acquired him from the Minnesota Twins with high expectations last winter, Hicks managed to hit just .217 with 31 RBI in 123 games. As a switch hitter, his performance in the righty’s box (.161/.213/.271 in 127 AB’s) was significantly weaker than his efforts in the lefty’s (.249/..318/.373 in 234 AB’s).

“With my left-handed swing, I got shorter with my load and right-handed just getting the ball deeper and seeing it for a longer period of time and being able to drive it to all fields,” Hicks told NJ Advance Media about his swing adjustments.

Despite harsh criticism from fans, Hicks has received ongoing support from his skipper, which he appreciates.

“Aaron Hicks is another person you are going to look at,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told the New York Post last Friday. “He seemed to play better when he got more consistent playing time.”

While time will tell if Hicks is up to the challenge, the club’s feelings of confidence in him are reciprocated. 

“It feels good. They have confidence in me,” Hicks said. “That’s something you need, especially if you’re going to take the next step to do better for next year. That’s really what you need.”

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.