New York Yankees' Marwin Gonzalez and Miguel Andujar celebrate their...

New York Yankees' Marwin Gonzalez and Miguel Andujar celebrate their 2-0 win against the Baltimore Orioles in an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Aaron Hicks said he was ready to play on Friday night after missing Thursday’s game with a tight right hamstring.

Aaron Boone said nah, let’s give it a day.

With the Yankees facing Tampa Bay righthander Corey Kluber, Hicks still was ready to play on Saturday.

Boone said, nah, let’s keep Miguel Andujar in the lineup instead.

Andujar started his fifth consecutive game in leftfield as the Yankees took on their old pal Kluber, who threw a no-hitter for them in 2021.

Is this the beginning of a changing of the guard in the Yankees’ outfield?

Boone was vague about his reasons for playing Andujar over Hicks — “just the decision there,” he said — and indicated Hicks will return to the lineup on Sunday.

Still, Hicks went into Saturday batting .209 with one home run and a .581 OPS. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of the Rays’ 3-1 win. Andujar, who was called up on Monday when Josh Donaldson went on the COVID-19 injured list, was batting .286 (6-for-21) with two RBIs and a .619 OPS before going 0-for-3.

Aaron Judge started his third consecutive game in center on the harsh Tropicana Field turf on Saturday and likely will need a designated hitter day on Sunday to get off his feet. Because the Rays are starting lefthander Shane McClanahan, that could mean a sixth straight start for Andujar in left.

The Yankees would love for the 27-year-old Andujar to finally regain the form that helped him finish second to Shohei Ohtani in the AL Rookie of the Year race in 2018.

In 2018, Andujar was a 23-year-old third baseman and seemed like a budding star when he hit .297 with 47 doubles, 27 homers, 92 RBIs and an .855 OPS.

Injuries, ineffectiveness at the plate and poor defense at third base have turned Andujar into an outfielder who shuttles between Triple-A and the majors.

Boone said he has been impressed with how Andujar has taken to the outfield.

“I really like him out there,” he said. “The first time I saw him go out there, I thought there was a natural way about him out there. Now he’s backing that up with experience.”

But whether Andujar can keep getting playing time — or even keep his roster spot — when Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton return from the injured list depends on his ability to recapture that 2018 form at the plate.

Gallo ninth

Joey Gallo was in the No. 9 spot in the order for the 21st time in his career but the first time as a Yankee. He went into the game batting .168 with 50 strikeouts in 130 plate appearances and went 1-for-3.

“The nine-hole is . . . a place I value,” Boone said. “I think there’s a pretty good fit there, especially when you turn over the lineup when he’s going well with his ability to get on base. And just trying to space out our lineup, our lefties, a little bit.”

DJ’s back

DJ LeMahieu returned to the lineup for the first time since he was scratched on Tuesday with a sore left wrist. He led off the game with a double and scored the Yankees’ only run.

“Just a really good turn of events,” Boone said. “About 36 hours ago, a little worried that he might need to do an IL stint. And then he really felt good two nights ago and was able to hit, and then [Friday], DJ had a real normal day. So yeah, excited to get him back in there.”

German progressing

Domingo German, out since spring training with right shoulder impingement syndrome, was scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday at the Yankees’ Tampa complex. The Yankees have more of a need in the bullpen than the rotation because of injuries at the moment, so German could fit as a reliever if and when he’s ready to return.

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