The only cheers Aaron Hicks heard all game came after he caught a routine, fifth-inning fly ball. The Bronx crowd was sarcastically proud, and the fan base may have found his next Joey Gallo.
Hicks struggled with his glove, allowing a catchable ball to drop to enable the Rays’ first run, and bat, grounding into a bases-loaded double play, in the Yankees’ 4-0 loss on Monday.
“Just overall extremely embarrassing,” Hicks said after his misplay and failure multiple times in the clutch. “Even if I’m not hitting, I want my defense to be on point. I messed up out there as well.”
Hicks’ poor night began in the second inning, when he struck out with two outs and runners on first and second base in a scoreless game. Hicks is hitting .173 with runners in scoring position this season, which was the fifth worst in baseball upon the game’s completion.
In the top of the fourth inning, Hicks’ night went from disappointing to distressing.
To lead off the frame, Tampa Bay’s David Peralta drove a high fly ball to center field that Hicks misjudged. He kept drifting back and got turned around on the warning track. He lunged at the last second for the ball, which bounced on the dirt and went for a triple. Isaac Paredes’ RBI single then put the Rays ahead to stay.
“Obviously a play that’s gotta be made,” manager Aaron Boone said, to which Hicks agreed.
“I turned the wrong way and tried to recover,” said Hicks, who then had trouble determining where the ball would end up. “That was a run that Gerrit [Cole] shouldn’t have had to deal with.”
Hicks could have found redemption in the bottom of the inning, but a distressing night became disastrous.
The Yankees, down 1-0 because of Hicks’ glove, loaded the bases with one out for their No. 9 hitter. Hicks hit a tapper back to pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, who threw to catch Francisco Mejia, who relayed to first baseman Ji-Man Choi for the inning-ending double play.
The boos hit their apex as Hicks looked down in frustration. Hicks acknowledged it is harder to bounce back when jeers follow him everywhere.
“It’s not nice to hear boos, but when you’re having a season the way I am, that’s kind of the way it goes. Especially around here,” said Hicks, who is 2-for-22 in his past six games and 5-for-42 (.119) this month. “They want results.”
The double play was Hicks’ fourth with the bases loaded, the most in baseball this season.
Hicks got one more at-bat, and he was greeted with heavy boos upon stepping up and sent off with heavy boos after grounding out, lowering his OPS to .644.
Boone, without naming names, repeatedly referred to “a couple of individuals that are struggling a little bit with their confidence right now.”
For now, Hicks is the only answer for a club that does not want to play Aaron Judge often in center field.
It is possible Harrison Bader returns from the injured list next month, but the return from the Jordan Montgomery trade is dealing with plantar fasciitis. He is in a walking boot and may be around two weeks away from resuming baseball activities.
It sounds as if the Yankee Stadium crowd would prefer a limping Bader take over center field.