Yankees: There’s no need to change horses midstream

Aaron Hicks (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Aaron Hicks (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Yankees have been facing a decision that will reach its fruition in a few days. They have a talented outfielder returning from injury and a productive rookie who’s been ticketed for a return to the minors. There’s a solution, though.

The Yankees lost the services of outfielder Aaron Hicks when they needed him most. Hicks was at the top of his game hitting well over .300 and playing nearly full-time when an oblique injury sent him to the disabled list.

Acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Twins the year before, Hicks was in a battle for the right field position throughout Spring Training, only to have the job snatched away from him by Aaron Judge during the final days of March.

Hicks took batting practice on Friday and Saturday and is expected to begin rehab games on Wednesday of this week with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, the Yankees Triple-A minor league affiliate.

If all goes well, Hicks will be ready to play in the Bronx sometime the following week.

All of this sounds good and is good except that Clint Frazier was called up in Hick’s absence and a coinciding injury to Jacoby Ellsbury, and since then has been playing at a high level as a regular in the Yankees lineup.

And to make matters worse, or better depending on how you look at it, for the Yankees is the fact they are winning again. And Frazier has been a large part of the puzzle enabling the team’s climb back into first place.

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The prevailing thought and the one most often given publicly by Brian Cashman and others was that once Hicks returned, Frazier would be sent back down to Scranton for more fine tuning and Hicks would re-claim the third outfield spot.

Not so fast, now. Frazier is fine tuning himself and playing with energy and repose. He’s been a spark on the team, along with Brett Gardner, since the All Star break and the slight slide experienced by Aaron Judge.

No matter what happens when Hicks returns, Frazier is not destined to be the next Wally Pipp of the New York Yankees. But in all fairness to Frazier, he’s doing all the learning he needs to do up here at a rapid pace and producing at the same time.

A possible solution

Clint Frazier should not be sent down. The advantage Hicks does have, though, is that he’s a switch-hitter, and the Yankees are noticeably top heavy with right-handed power when Judge, Frazier, and Gary Sanchez are all in the lineup.

With Jacoby Ellsbury officially out of the picture now as a starter, four outfielders, including Brett Gardner, give Joe Girardi options on any given day to play three of the four or using one of them interchangeably as the DH when Holliday isn’t playing.

As we get into August and the hot humid days of summer, they’ll all need more rest too. And that especially includes Gardner, who is no spring chicken, even though he has been playing like one.

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They all need and deserve their at-bats as much as the Yankees need their production. But Girardi is used to being a master juggler, as proven by his use of the Bullpen By Committee. Switching around outfielders is no different.

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