MLB playoffs: Yankees could get injured Aaron Hicks, CC Sabathia back in time for ALCS

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The New York Yankees will open the 2019 ALCS this coming Saturday. They just don’t know who they’re playing, or where they will be playing yet. The Astros will host the Rays for ALDS Game 5 on Thursday. If the Astros win, the ALCS will begin at Minute Maid Park. If the Rays win, the ALCS will begin at Yankee Stadium.

Wherever the ALCS begins, the Yankees could have two important players back on their roster: Aaron Hicks and CC Sabathia. Manager Aaron Boone confirmed Wednesday that Hicks and Sabathia are doing well with their injury rehabs, and could be included on the ALCS roster.

“(Hicks) is very much a consideration,” Boone said. “… He’s good physically. Obviously hasn’t had the kind of reps or games that you’d like, but he has certainly put himself in a position to be considered (for the ALCS roster).”  

Hicks has been down with an elbow injury since early August, and there was some fear he would require Tommy John surgery, especially following a setback in September. His rehab work has gone well though, and Boone said Hicks has rejoined the team in New York to continue working out.

Here’s what Hicks told the Associated Press about his rehab work earlier this week:

Hicks said Tuesday he is “definitely ready to go out there and play.”

“For sure,” Hicks said. “That’s really what I’m getting ready for is to get back and play in the playoffs. Get back to playing baseball.”

Hicks added he has been hitting in simulated games — like every other postseason team, the Yankees have extra pitchers staying ready at their spring training complex in case they’re need later in the postseason — and also throwing to the bases, which is a good sign given the nature of his injury.

Back and elbow injuries limited Hicks to 59 games during the regular season, during which he hit .235/.325/.443 with 12 home runs. Brett Gardner has filled in as the starting center fielder and it seems likely Hicks would return as a bench player in the ALCS after such a long layoff. Jumping into the starting lineup may not be realistic.

“I could see him anything from being in the lineup on a given game, I could see him being on our bench,” Boone added. “I could also see us not ready to make that move yet because of not being fully worked back up. Those are things we’ll try to evaluate as best we can the next couple of days. Try and make the best decision for us moving forward.”  

As for Sabathia, the veteran lefty was expected to be on the ALDS roster as a reliever, but he was slowed by a shoulder issue that required a cortisone shot early last week. Sabathia was not on the ALDS roster but did travel and work out with the team. He played catch Sunday and Monday, and threw a simulated game Wednesday.

“CC did throw today. Frankly, looked really good. I was really excited about how he looked. He was sharp. He was able to really finish his pitches,” Boone said. “I think he’s feeling considerably better than he was this time last week certainly. I would say he is now an option for us, as well, and somebody that we’re considering.”

Sabathia held left-handed batters to a .198 batting average with a 25.5 percent strikeout rate during the regular season. He made the first career regular season relief appearance in the final week of the season to prepare for a postseason bullpen role, which is when the shoulder issue popped up. Sabathia is not a lock for the ALCS, but he is a consideration.

The ALCS roster must be submitted by 10 a.m. local time Saturday. Utility man Tyler Wade is the logical roster casualty should the Yankees carry Hicks on the ALCS roster. Sabathia would likely replace lefty reliever Tyler Lyons.



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