Aaron Hicks opens up about difficult 2022 Yankees season, but LF is 'his job to lose'

Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Five
Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Five / Elsa/GettyImages

2022 was supposed to be a return to form for Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks after he damaged his wrist sheath in early 2021 (a season where he'd started slow pre-injury, too).

Unfortunately, the resulting reality was the one many feared, knowing full well that wrist surgery can occasionally zap power. Hicks continued hacking full-strength like he'd done in 2018-19, but the same pop often wasn't there, and he struggled to tomahawk pitches into the right-field seats, save for one special game-tying shot against the Astros.

Diminished abilities at the plate led to a lack of impact for his on-base skills. He still OBP'd .330, but hit an empty .216 for an 86 OPS+. Hicks became both punchless at the plate and a step slow elsewhere; it's no surprise his sudden lack of aggression led to overall malaise, which manifested itself in moments big and small.

While it's possible Yankee fans will never get over the fair ball Hicks ignored in a pivotal September game against the Rays, the presumptive starting left fielder on Opening Day is trying to move on from his brutal 2022, as he relayed to The Athletic's Chris Kirschner this week.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks likely to be Opening Day starter in left field

Hicks felt he was clearly pressing, but didn't notice the mechanical issues that could've led to his downfall (hands out, not in) until he had an offseason to review the campaign in the rear view.

While it's fair to ask why that clear deficiency wasn't caught midstream by the Yankees' hitting coaches -- in fact, we're asking it right now! -- there's a tangible correction Hicks can make entering 2023, as long as his attitude changes, too.

He's going to need to get things together quickly at spring training, it seems, considering The Athletic's Brendan Kuty has deemed left field Hicks' gig to lose over the next few weeks.

According to Kuty:

"Left field really seems like it’s Aaron Hicks’ to lose. This week, Boone said he views Oswaldo Cabrera primarily as an infielder. Most of the time, when there’s a spring training competition, it’s between people who view that position as their primary spot. For Hicks, left field will be his main home. For Cabrera, the Yankees seem committed to having him bounce around the infield and the outfield corners. If left field isn’t going to be Cabrera’s main concern, it’s hard to imagine that he’s really in competition with Hicks for the starting job in left field. "

Brendan Kuty

While the official position of Yanks Go Yard (ok, maybe just me) is that Rafael Ortega will eventually make noise and become a part of this team/provide lefty lineup balance, Hicks still seems to be the favorite in the clubhouse to emerge as the Opening Day starter.

Now, all he needs to do is make that clubhouse a more favorable spot for him.