Brian Cashman Assures Aaron Hicks Will Be an 'Option' in Center Field for Yankees This Season

Max Goodman

As expected, Aaron Hicks is on track to return as the Yankees' starting center fielder in 2020. The amount of games he'll miss, however, is far fewer than anyone anticipated.

Brian Cashman provided an update on Hicks' progress rehabbing from Tommy John surgery this offseason on a charity zoom call Thursday morning. The Yankees' general manager explained that Hicks will be back in center field in 2020 if he doesn't encounter any setbacks.

“I think him playing center field for the New York Yankees this summer is a legit option, as expected,” Cashman said, as noted by MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, one of the reporters listening in on the call. “His timeframe is currently going as planned. We're excited to get him back, because I think he's one of the better center fielders in the game, both offensively and defensively.”

Just a few days after the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason last October, Hicks went under the knife. With a nearly-identical timetable to former Bombers' shortstop Didi Gregorius and his return from Tommy John surgery last year, Hicks was due to return in June or July. 

Now, if MLB's latest proposal comes to fruition – amid the novel coronavirus pandemic – it's feasible the switch-hitting outfielder could miss little to no time at all. 

As is the case with Aaron Judge and James Paxton, Hicks has taken full advantage of the shutdown, utilizing the extra time to recover. In mid-March, the outfielder began his throwing program for the first time since surgery and last month teased his return to the batting cage with an Instagram post. 

Cashman disclosed Thursday that Hicks has been practicing dry swings and continuing to build up his arm with his throwing program. 

READ: How adding a universal DH in 2020 would benefit the Yankees

In other injury news, Paxton has been throwing in simulated games at home in Wisconsin. Cashman expects the lanky lefty to be game ready in May or June. 

“He feels great,” Cashman said with Hoch and others tuned in. “We’re fortunate to know that one of the better starting pitchers in the game, his issues look like they've resolved. It's just simply tuning up and getting ready.”

Judge, on the other hand, may not be ready until later this summer, something Cashman said he anticipated all along. More time off has allowed his rib to continue to heal but this unique injury for the slugger isn't in the rearview mirror just yet. 

READ: Yankees Didn't Expect Aaron Judge's Return From Injury Until 'Summertime'

Considering the injuries this club sustained last season, factoring in those from this spring, New York was poised to rely on the next man up mentality early on once again this season. Instead, it's possible skipper Aaron Boone will have his entire starting lineup at his disposal when baseball resumes. 

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees

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