By George A. KIng III
Even though Aaron Hicks was experiencing his first real slide of the season, the Yankees certainly missed Jacoby Ellsbury’s replacement in center field the last three games in Oakland.
“He is an important player for us,” general manager Brian Cashman said Monday of Hicks after the switch hitter was examined by club doctor Chris Ahmad but did not have tests done on his lower left-leg problem. “And he has been great for us so far.”
Hicks left Thursday’s 8-7 loss to the A’s with that leg problem and sat out the final three games — all losses — of the disastrous 1-6 road trip.
Cashman said Hicks is “day-to-day,” and the quicker they get the 27-year-old back, the better, even if he is in a 6-for-26 (.231) slide in his past six games, including seven strikeouts. For the season, Hicks is batting .306 with 10 homers, 36 RBIs and a .968 OPS.
Since replacing Ellsbury, who has been out since suffering a concussion May 24, Hicks is hitting .325 (25-for-77) with two homers, 16 RBIs, 16 strikeouts and a .926 OPS in 20 games in which the Yankees went 11-9.
Without Hicks, who took batting practice on the field Sunday in Oakland, manager Joe Girardi inserted Mason Williams in center field for three games and used Aaron Judge, Chase Headley and Gary Sanchez in Hicks’ No. 2 spot in the order. Williams went 2-for-9 with an RBI in three games against the A’s. Judge, Headley and Sanchez went 2-for-11 in those games with Judge going 2-for-3 with three RBIs Friday night.
“We have missed him,” Cashman said of Hicks. “But we also have missed others. We missed [Aroldis] Chapman and miss CC [Sabathia].”
Greg Bird will have his bothersome right ankle examined by Dr. Robert Anderson on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C.
Bird has been on the DL since May 2 and shut down a minor league rehab assignment last week when his foot bothered him. A CT scan and MRI exam did not reveal any signs of significant injury, and Cashman said the bone bruise that landed Bird on the DL has healed.
Bird, who missed the 2016 season because of shoulder surgery and fouled a ball off his foot late in spring training, has played in 12 minor league games for Single-A Tampa and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting a combined .237 (9-for-38) with four RBIs. In 19 games for the Yankees, he is hitting .100 (6-for-60) with a homer, three RBIs and a .450 OPS.
Despite his lack of production, Bird’s absence has left a void in the Yankees’ lineup. He was the No. 3 hitter on Opening Day. Chris Carter has started 38 of the 39 games since Bird went down at first base and has hit .203 (24-for-118) with seven homers, 17 RBIs, an OPS of .704 and whiffed 52 times.
Yankees minor league pitcher Matt Marsh was suspended 50 games, MLB announced Monday, for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Marsh has gone 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA with Double-A Trenton this season after starting the year at Tampa. He was suspended following a second positive test for “a drug of abuse.”