Baseball / MLB

Yankees' Aaron Hicks to undergo Tommy John surgery; Masahiro Tanaka has surgery on right elbow

AP

The New York Yankees hardly finished the 2019 season before starting on their injured list for 2020.

Center fielder Aaron Hicks will have Tommy John surgery for a partially torn ligament in his throwing elbow and is expected to be out 8-10 months.

General manager Brian Cashman announced Thursday that Hicks would have the operation Oct. 30.

Cashman also announced that right-hander Masahiro Tanaka had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs Wednesday, and Luke Voit had surgery for bilateral core muscle injuries Thursday. Both players are expected to be ready for spring training.

Hicks injured his right elbow Aug. 3. He initially rested and rehabbed with hopes of returning late in the season, but eventually he was sent home to Phoenix with instructions to rest until doctors could evaluate him in the offseason. While playing around in the backyard, Hicks experimented tossing a ball, found the pain had subsided and pushed New York to let him return in the postseason.

He rejoined the team in the AL Championship Series against Houston and hit a home run in Game 5. After New York lost to the Astros in six games, the Yankees and Hicks agreed he should have the surgery this offseason rather than continue pushing the partially torn UCL.

“He played great in the postseason for us obviously,” Cashman said. “But once it ended, the feeling of, there’s something here that’s still not right, the follow-up doctor exam was, again, led to the ultimate decision we have to get this thing fixed or it’s just going to blow.”

After signing a $70 million, seven-year contract in the spring, Hicks injured his back early in spring training and didn’t play his first game until May 15. The 30-year-old switch-hitter batted .235 with 12 homers, 36 RBIs and a .769 OPS in 59 games.

New York placed a record 30 players on the injured list in 2019. The club won 103 regular-season games and earned the AL East title.

With Hicks set to miss much of the 2020 season, New York has more motivation to bring back veteran Brett Gardner. The 36-year-old Gardner hit a career-high 28 home runs and played solid defense in center with Hicks sidelined.

A career-long Yankee, Gardner is a potential free agent for the second consecutive offseason. He returned to New York last year on a $7.5 million, one-year contract.

Cashman wouldn’t commit to re-signing Gardner but praised his recent performance.

“I don’t think there’s any question about what his capabilities are,” Cashman said. “He had a tremendous season, both sides of the ball.”

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