Yankees’ Aaron Hicks feels ‘100 percent’ after Tommy John surgery

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TAMPA — Aaron Hicks said his right elbow feels “night and day” from how it felt in 2020, when he struggled following Tommy John surgery the previous offseason.

“I definitely feel like it’s 100 percent right now, just with the way I’m able to throw to bases,’’ Hicks said.

He said he also notices a difference at the plate and believes he can hit “30-plus” home runs if he’s able to remain healthy for a full season.

A year ago, Hicks said he was “a little nervous” about extending his right arm fully when he was batting from the left side and he was worried about reinjuring the elbow on missed swings.

“I protected it,’’ Hicks said.

This spring, he’s trying to take full swings in the hope of creating “the power I know I have from the left side.”


Manager Aaron Boone said he expected there to be a competition this spring for the last one or two spots on the bench and in the bullpen.

As for the pen, after Justin Wilson signed with the Yankees and met Chad Green, they talked about the 2015 trade that sent Wilson from The Bronx to the Tigers in exchange for Green and Luis Cessa.

“I asked [Green] to thank me,’’ Wilson said. “[I told him], ‘You might still be in [Triple-A] in Detroit. They try to hold everybody back [in the minors].’ ”

Green has flourished with the Yankees since that deal and there are high expectations for Wilson and the current Yankees bullpen.

When Wilson was last with the Yankees, he was part of a bullpen that included Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, a pair of strikeout machines who combined to whiff more than 14 batters per nine innings.

He’ll join a pen this season that figures to be deeper and, the Yankees hope, better.

“It’s kind of hard not to be excited,’’ Wilson said Thursday of the relief corps. “We have a veteran group with some young studs.”

Wilson comes to the Yankees after spending the previous two seasons across town with the Mets. Since his one season in The Bronx, the left-hander has mostly ditched his sinker and increased the use of his cutter and four-seam fastball.

“I used to try to throw a sinker that didn’t sink,’’ Wilson said. “We’ll let Zack Britton throw all the sinkers and I’ll stick to the four-seam.”

Wilson plans on providing some late-inning, lefty depth, pitching in high-leverage situations on days when Britton and Aroldis Chapman aren’t available.

justin wilson spent the last two seasons with the mets
Justin Wilson is back in the Yankees pen after a spending the last two seasons with the Mets.
Corey Sipkin

Wilson said he is confident he’s a better pitcher than he was during his first stint with the Yankees.

“I’ve built on my consistencies and knowing my strengths,’’ Wilson said.

He has used analytics to make adjustments to his arsenal, including throwing his slow breaking ball and changing speeds more frequently.

And he has improved his effectiveness against left-handed hitters by moving over on the rubber to give them a different angle.

He’ll now be doing so alongside Green, and perhaps Cessa.

“It’s kind of cool,’’ Wilson said. “[General manager Brian Cashman] knew what he was doing [with the trade]. He brought two pretty good arms in.”

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