Roughly four months removed from surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Yankees CF Aaron Hicks told SNY contributor Sweeny Murti that the recovery has gone well.
During a 1-on-1 interview Wednesday at Spring Training in Tampa, Fla., Hicks told Murti about his rehabilitation process, which he admitted has seen ups and downs on the 30-year-old's road back to the field.
"I feel great," Hicks told Murti. "I feel like my arm is recovering good, recovering fast and I'm kind of just ready to get things going. The first couple of months were kind of slow, just trying to get strength back and stuff like that with grip strength. So pretty much just trying to just kind of enjoy the ride right now, because I know it's a long road, but just excited for the future."
At an end-of-season press conference Oct. 24, GM Brian Cashman revealed that Hicks would undergo surgery in Los Angeles. The procedure left an anticipated recovery timeline of 8-10 months.
"I want to be throwing by then (the end of Spring Training)," Hicks said. "I want to be throwing and kind of start becoming a baseball player again. So once I'm able to kind of do that, I'll start to hit, move around, do some defensive stuff and actually start to be more active."
He initially was diagnosed with a right elbow flexor strain, which sidelined him from Aug. 4 through Oct. 12. Hicks made his return in the postseason, starting 4 of 5 games for the Yankees' six-game ALCS loss to the Houston Astros.
Throughout the series, Hicks had two hits in 13 at-bats with a home run, three RBI and four walks to five strikeouts over 17 plate appearances. He had a decisive three-run homer off Astros RHP Justin Verlander to lead the Yankees' 4-1 win over Houston in Game 5.
On the 2019 regular season, Hicks slashed .235/.325/.443 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI in 59 games. As he got set to sit out Spring Training and the start of the 2020 campaign, Hicks relied on his former teammate, SS Didi Gregorius, for some advice.
Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery Oct. 17, 2018, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manahattan to repair his right UCL. He missed the beginning of the 2019 regular season and returned in time to slash .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI over 82 games.
Gregorius, however, somewhat defied the odds by coming back June 7 -- slightly fewer than eight months. Hicks, meanwhile, has some ways to go.
"Didi's kind of a freak of nature," Hicks said of Gregorius, who is now with the Philadelphia Phillies on a one-year deal worth $14 million after five seasons in New York from 2015-19. "He would say he had no pain and, at times, I've felt pain and stuff like that. But we definitely talked a lot, especially about grip strength and just continually to get strong and keep it going. He said that that was a big part of his recovery, was being able to have his grip strength strong and that's definitely something I've been keeping up with."
Taking things one step at a time, Hicks has no immediate goals in mind as Spring Training progresses. While working back to the Yankees for 2020, he goes at his own pace.
"No, not right now," said Hicks, who enters 2020 in the second season of his seven-year contract worth $70 million he signed Feb. 25 last year. "I kind of want to start throwing first and then I'll kind of be able to gauge it better from there. But of course I want to get back as fast as possible."