May 12, 2019|9:39pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When Aaron Hicks experienced discomfort in his lower back early in spring training it was believed to be a day-or-two thing. However it developed into a situation that required two cortisone injections and landed him on the injured list to start the season.
Monday, the Yankees plan to activate the switch-hitting center fielder and leadoff hitter who signed a seven-year, $70 million deal shortly before being shelved with a lower-back strain.
Hicks was scheduled to play for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday, but that game was rained out. In five minor league rehab games (three in Single-A; two in Triple-A), Hicks batted .167 (3-for-18) with a homer and one RBI.
When Chad Green was recalled from SWB on Sunday there was an open spot in the bullpen because Nestor Cortes, Jr. had been sent out Saturday night.
Aaron Boone said the club knew who was going to go to clear space for Hicks, but didn’t announce the move following Sunday’s 7-1 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Mike Tauchman was the leading candidate as the Yankees packed and headed for the team bus. Tauchman is a left-handed hitting outfielder who can play center, but Hicks is a switch hitter and Brett Gardner hits left-handed and has started 35 games in center. And Tauchman has options remaining.
Tauchman played a big role in Sunday’s victory with an RBI double off Blake Snell that came within a couple of feet of clearing the center-field wall in the fifth inning when the Yankees copped a 2-0 lead.
“I knew I hit it high enough and I knew I had backspinned it,’’ said Tauchman who scored on DJ LeMahieu’s single and scored in the ninth. “I don’t hit no-doubters and height was going to be an issue, not quite high enough.’’