Brett Gardner got another chance in the starting lineup Monday when Aaron Boone decided to keep centerfielder Aaron Hicks on the bench as a reserve player in Game 3 of the Division Series with the Red Sox.
Hicks apparently tried to convince the manager that he was ready to return from the right hamstring tightness that caused him to leave Game 1 after singling in his only at-bat.
On Sunday, he had no doubt he would be in the lineup, saying, “No. I feel good. When I woke up today, things are just going well. When I was walking around, everything felt pretty much normal.’’
Gardner, was ho lost his leftfield job to Andrew McCutchen, was 0-for-3 on Monday and is 0-for-7 in the series. He averaged .236 in the regular season.
Hicks hit .248 but had career highs in home runs (27) and RBIs (79). The switch hitter was 3-for-14 against Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi. The lefthanded-hitting Gardner was 2-for-8.
“It was a really tough decision for me today,’’ Boone said of sitting Hicks. “A lot easier the other day, frankly, because today I felt like he is considerably better. He was more emphatic about wanting to be in there tonight. And I just felt like just with the nature of hamstrings sometimes and him being a centerfielder and his legs being so important to him in the middle of the diamond, I just felt, and the fact that we’ve got a guy like Brett Gardner as an option, I just really felt like not starting him tonight. Hopefully, it’s something that benefits him even further. But that said, he is an active player for us. I wouldn’t hesitate to use him, not just in a pinch-hitting situation but putting him in the game and feeling like he’s ready to do that.’’