Aaron Hicks downplayed his success in the leadoff spot, saying he focuses on that role the same as he would on any other, but the numbers support the notion that he thrives when hitting first.
The switch hitter has been a prolific home-run producer in 54 at-bats in that spot for the Yankees this season, and the power barrage continued Tuesday night. Hicks mashed a two-run homer batting righthanded in the fifth inning as part of a 3-for-4 night in a 7-2 win over the Mariners at the Stadium, giving him five home runs and 15 hits in 13 games batting first.
But he said he doesn’t change his mindset based on where Aaron Boone pencils him in.
“It’s not going to change my approach or what I’m doing,” said Hicks, who has homered in three straight games and four of the last six. “As soon as I step into the box, I’m going to be ready to go first pitch.”
Hicks led off each of the past three games, coinciding with inflammation in the right knee of Brett Gardner, and has gone 7-for-14. When Gardner returns — possibly Wednesday, according to Boone — Hicks likely will be deployed in the leadoff spot against lefties.
“I still think against righties it’ll be Gardy, and then lefties, Hicks,” Boone said. “That’s kind of how I see it playing out. Hicksie being a switch hitter, he’s nice to have as that flexible piece that you can plop him a few places in the order a little more strategically just depending on the matchup and who’s in their pen.
“Aaron versus lefties, I love that.”
Hicks deposited lefthander Marco Gonzales’ pitch off the back wall of the left-centerfield bullpen, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 5-1. It was a towering shot that had the sound off the bat and the reaction from the fans that left little doubt that it would do damage.
“Especially from the right side most of the year, he’s been in a really good power position, I feel like,” Boone said. “Impacting the ball, not so much hooking the ball, but more straight out to left-center and center.”
Hicks recognizes he’s on a special streak, but he said his goal is to stay level.
“Just keep going and keep riding that streak as much as possible,” Hicks said, “and make sure that I stay humbled with it and just continue to try and help the team win.”