Aaron Hicks leveling up with Orioles after Yankees departure is infuriating but expected

Baltimore Orioles v San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

It's difficult to accuse a professional athlete of "starting to try" after leaving one city for another. It's especially difficult to accuse former Yankees OF Aaron Hicks of that, considering he was hitting .353 with two doubles and a dinger in the two weeks that preceded his release.

Therefore, it seems possible -- not plausible, but possible -- that after two years attempting to build himself back up following a 2021 wrist sheath tear, he'd finally gotten right, just in time for the Yankees front office to cut the cord.

The more likely answer is that Hicks is in a groove that won't last forever, buoyed in part by the motivation to perform better in a new city, rather than the one that discarded him.

No matter the cause, we regret to inform you that, at a time when the Yankees' outfield is thin, with Harrison Bader on the IL and Aaron Judge dealing with a busted toe, Hicks is hitting .455 in four games with the Orioles. Gone are the days where his OPS+ was somehow a -3.

Former Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks looks like a new man in Baltimore

It's OK. We can take the pain. We've been here before. Two of Hicks' early hits were bloops. Joey Gallo mashed the ball in Minnesota, until he didn't. All things must pass.

Except ... the worst part about Hicks' last few years with the Yankees was his defensive effort. He'd lost a step, sure, but the issues also unquestionably went deeper. His defining moment of 2022 was a fair liner that he played as if it had gone foul, sighing as the Tampa Bay Rays circled the bases. Center field? Wouldn't dream of it; even a corner spot felt like a stretch.

And now? He's, uh, playing center field and sprinting deep into the sizable San Francisco gaps to ruin a Giant's life.

Good for Hicks, who's being paid by the Yankees to pull off these feats of strength elsewhere.

If he genuinely had more in the tank that he couldn't unlock under the pressure of New York, then we're glad he got out. But if he was sandbagging in NYC because he was unhappy with his "role," then endless pain to you, sir.