Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks competed for the Yankees’ starting right field job during the spring. Now, after stellar starts, both could end up representing the American League at the All-Star game.
Judge was leading all AL players in votes as of the latest ballot return, while Hicks is making a strong case to be a reserve himself.
“Hicks has shown the league enough that he can be an All-Star,” said the GM who traded for him, Brian Cashman.
Hicks, recently elevated to second in the lineup, is hitting .315/.426/.550 after going 1-for-5 with a run scored in Thursday’s 9-1 victory over the Red Sox. Last season, his first in pinstripes, he hit .217/.281/.336.
Many fans wanted him off the team, but Cashman was always a believer, even comparing Hicks to Jackie Bradley Jr.
“With his tool package, the sky’s the limit,” Cashman said. “It’s great to see it translate into consistent performance, and hopefully it can continue for us.”
While $21.1 million centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) remains day to day, it’s easy to wonder how much playing time he’ll get when he returns — especially if Hicks, Brett Gardner and Judge all continue to rake. Could Ellsbury (.281/.349/.422) move into Hicks’ “fourth outfielder who plays more than your average fourth outfielder” role?
“I’m not going to deal with any speculative stuff. It makes no sense to create the noise,” Cashman said.
If Hicks keeps playing this way, it will certainly force the Yankees to make a tough decision.
The Yankees are still weighing whether to push Masahiro Tanaka back a day, with Joe Girardi saying the rotation remains on-schedule “for now.” Tanaka is slated to pitch against the Orioles on Sunday in the Bronx, but could move to Monday and face the Angels in Anaheim. “We’re talking through all that,” Cashman said.
The Orioles rocked Tanaka at Camden Yards on May 31, tagging him for seven runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings. He has yet to face the Angels this season. Anaheim is currently without Mike Trout, and they were tied for 23rd in runs scored as of games played Wednesday.
Dellin Betances was brought in to record the final out in an eight-run game, and needed 17 pitches to get it. Joe Girardi covered his face with his hands when asked about the fiasco. This wasn’t how he wanted it to go down. He called it a “Catch 22.” Girardi said Betances was told that he had to face one hitter on Thursday night.
“It was like the worst decision I had to make today,” Girardi said. “First of all, you don’t want to do it because it looks like, ‘What are you doing?’ But he’s thrown once since May 27. Once. And you can’t expect him to be sharp if he doesn’t pitch.”
Girardi said Betances will be available on Friday against the Orioles.
There is a different sound when Aaron Judge hits the ball.
That much was evident went Judge struck a sixth-inning single that came off the bat with an exit velocity of 119.8 mph. It was the hardest ball hit in the majors this season, according to Statcast.
The 25-year-old rookie right fielder has the three hardest hit balls of the year. He also has 12 batted balls at 115-plus mph. The rest of baseball has 23.
Jorge Posada will make his Old-Timers’ Day debut on June 25. The team will also honor Hall of Famer Tim Raines in a pregame ceremony.