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Yankees’ Aaron Hicks benched again amid latest struggles

Even Aaron Hicks knew that the Yankees weren’t going to keep him in the lineup forever amid what he described Friday as “a horrible season.”

Hicks was out of the starting lineup for a fourth consecutive game Friday night against the Blue Jays, losing his everyday outfield job for now following a 5-for-54 slide (.093) with no homers and a paltry .289 OPS since July 28.

“I mean, you can only struggle for so long, especially on a team like this. We’re struggling right now, and to be a guy that is the one who is struggling the most, you could see it coming,” Hicks said before the game. “For me, my season has not been what I wanted it to be. I know that I’m a better player than what I’m showing and I should be doing a lot more to help this team win. I’m just not doing it.”

Aaron Hicks
Aaron Hicks
Jason Szenes/New York Post

Aaron Boone said Thursday that he had a conversation with Hicks about a decrease in playing time, with Estevan Florial starting two games in center field after he was recalled Wednesday from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Oswaldo Cabrera also was summoned from the minors with Florial, and he started Friday in right field with Aaron Judge manning center.

“Basically [he told me] that I gotta figure out a way to get back in the lineup, that’s what it essentially comes down to,” Hicks said. “When I get opportunities to play, get results. Basically, I just have to get better. Get better at hitting, defensively, and just gotta be able to put up competitive at-bats, every single time I’m out there. Whenever I get those opportunities, gotta be ready to go for them.”

The 32-year-old Hicks has three-plus guaranteed seasons remaining on a seven-year $70 million contract through 2025 (plus a team option). He was particularly hard on himself — calling his play “extremely embarrassing” — after hearing heavy boos during Monday’s 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay. Hicks tapped into a double play with the bases load in the fourth inning, a half-inning after his defensive miscue led to the Rays’ first run.

“I don’t rephrase any of the things that I said because for me, I expect more out of myself. And to go back on my word isn’t what I’m about,” Hicks said. “This season has been horrible for me, and as hard as it is to grasp the way it’s going, I have to figure out a way to turn it around.”

Hicks’ latest slump came after an encouraging 19-game stretch in July in which he’d posted an improved slash line of .328/.458/.569.

Now, with Florial already here and deadline acquisition Harrison Bader, a 2021 Gold Glove winner with the Cardinals, due back from plantar fasciitis in September, Hicks faces an uphill climb to regain regular playing time for the stretch run and the postseason. Giancarlo Stanton also is getting closer to returning from an Achilles injury.

A fan boos Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks after he struck out in the ninth inning in a game against the Rays on Aug. 17, 2022.
A fan boos Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks after he struck out in the ninth inning in a game against the Rays on Aug. 17, 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Po

“I can’t really look forward to the future. I just have to work and focus on me right now, and how I can get back into the lineup,” Hicks said. “I can’t focus on what other players are going to do, other teammates and how they’re doing. I have to play when I play, and make it a tough decision.”

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