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DUNEDIN, Fla. — After Aaron Hicks sat out the Yankees’ game Monday following the news that Daunte Wright had been killed by police in a suburb of Minneapolis on Sunday, manager Aaron Boone said he wouldn’t hesitate to allow another player to make a similar decision.
“One of the things we try to encourage here, or foster, is an environment and a culture where you come here and obviously, you’re all in and committed to us as a team, but also you’re yourself,’’ Boone said. “Talking about the things that happened [Monday] and Aaron, those were deeply personal things. You try and respect that as best you can when you haven’t necessarily walked in someone else’s shoes try and empathize with them.”
Hicks started in center field Tuesday, hitting fifth, against the Blue Jays a day after telling Boone he was struggling emotionally following the death of the 20-year-old unarmed black man during a traffic stop on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minn. — about 10 miles from where George Floyd died last summer.
Hicks spent the first three seasons of his career with the Twins before being traded to the Yankees.
Boone said he texted with Hicks on Tuesday morning to “check in on him and make sure he was good to go, and he absolutely was.”
The manager later spoke with Hicks in person later at TD Ballpark.
“I feel he’s in a good headspace and ready to go out there and contribute,’’ Boone said.
Giancarlo Stanton had also considered sitting out Monday’s game, but ultimately decided to play.
It’s part of the more accepting nature of clubhouses in this era.
“People come from so many different places and [have] so many different views,’’ Boone said. “It’s about being able to thrive in this environment and not only coexist with people, but really we form like a family. It’s important, when hard conversations have to be had, hopefully they’re being had. A lot of those things went on last year. It’s part of being a big leaguer in 2021.”
Hicks was on the field talking to teammates and members of the Blue Jays before Tuesday’s game, as he was on Monday.
Boone said he kept an eye on Hicks in the dugout during Monday’s game to get a read on his mindset.
“There’s no question he was down [Monday], when we first talked in my office,’’ Boone said. “He was just struggling with everything. … He was fully engaged in the game. I liked what I saw and he’s ready to go [Tuesday].”
Hicks is off to a 4-for-31 start with just one extra-base hit, and Tuesday was the first time this season he was in the lineup and not batting third.
The switch-hitter has been especially ineffective swinging from the left side, with just a pair of hits in 19 at-bats.
It’s been a struggle for Hicks since coming back from Tommy John surgery last season and his batting average has dropped each of the past three seasons. The early signs aren’t promising in that category this year and while the importance of the stat has decreased, it’s still not ideal.
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