ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — At last, Aaron Hicks is ready.
The centerfielder, who missed just about all of spring training with a lower-back injury that forced him to start the season on the injured list, is set to be activated Monday when the Yankees return home to start a three-game series against the Orioles.
“The idea is we’re planning on him being activated tomorrow,” Aaron Boone said Sunday morning.
Hicks was slated to play in one final rehab game Sunday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but that contest was rained out. In Saturday night’s rehab game, Hicks went 3-for-4 with a homer and two doubles.
“Looked more than ready,” said one opposing team scout at Saturday’s game.
The switch hitter, who agreed to a seven-year, $70 million extension early in spring training, tweaked his back March 1 and did not do much in the way of baseball activities thereafter. He began playing in extended spring training games May 1 and quickly moved to high Class A Tampa and then Scranton late last week.
Outfielder Mike Tauchman, whose RBI double off Blake Snell gave the Yankees their first run in Sunday's 7-1 victory over the Rays, is expected to be optioned to make room for Hicks.
Rookie Thairo Estrada started at shortstop Sunday in place of Gleyber Torres, who got hit by a pitch on his right elbow Friday night.
“Didn’t affect him at all swinging the bat. Felt like, though, he was a little sore throwing the ball from short yesterday,” Boone said. “Felt like it was a good day to get him a day.”
Estrada homered to ignite a four-run ninth inning.
Sanchez gets day, too
Gary Sanchez typically doesn’t catch a day game after a night game and was not in the lineup Sunday, replaced by Austin Romine. Sealing the deal was Sanchez getting hit on the top of his head on a swing follow-through by the Rays' Guillermo Heredia late in Saturday’s game.
“Came in feeling really good, which was encouraging,” Boone said of Sanchez, who passed concussion protocol testing Saturday night. “But I think we’re definitely taking a little conservative approach because he took a pretty good shot there. Was considering a DH day for him today, but then just with that shot, was best to have him out of there.”
Andujar and Frazier struggling
Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier have yet to get in a groove at the plate since being activated from the injured list. After going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts Sunday, Andujar is 3-for-34 with nine strikeouts. Frazier, after going 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts Sunday, is 5-for-25 with eight strikeouts.