NEW YORK — The mere mention of Aaron Hicks‘ name at Yankee Stadium is drawing boos, a reaction the former Yankees outfielder expected on his return to the Bronx.
Booed in pregame introductions, jeered during a brief tribute video Monday night and booed before each at-bat, the reception for the now-Orioles outfielder is everything Hicks thought it could be.
There were even a few more boos Tuesday, when Hicks homered in his second game back in New York after the Yankees released him May 26, ending his eight-year, injury-filled tenure with the team.
“I definitely enjoyed my time here,” Hicks said “I enjoyed being a Yankee. I enjoyed the team and it’s just kind of one of those things, a little disappointing, but at the same time it’s like they’re going to do what they’re going to do and I can’t control that.”
Hicks hit a 372-foot drive off New York’s Clarke Schmidt a few rows deep into the right-field seats for his fifth homer since joining the Orioles on May 30, after Cedric Mullins went on the injured list with a strained right groin.
He briefly watched the flight of the ball before completing his home run trot in the fifth inning of Baltimore’s 8-4 loss to the Yankees.
Hicks is hitting .264 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 28 games with the Orioles, who are paying him $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary.
The 33-year-old was batting .188 with one homer and six RBIs in 28 games when the Yankees cut him with three years remaining on a seven-year, $70 million contract signed in February 2019.
“Just kind of the way this year was going and things I’ve been hearing while I was out there when I was here,” Hicks said. “I kind of assumed that was going to happen, but I’m just going to try and go out there and continue to battle and try to win games.”
At the time Hicks was cut, the Yankees owed him about $27.6 million: $7,620,968 for the remainder of this year’s $10.5 million salary plus salaries of $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.
Hicks signed his contract after hitting .248 with a career-high 27 homers and 79 RBIs in 137 games in 2018. During that season, he hit three homers against the Boston Red Sox on July 1, and those were included during the brief tribute video after the Orioles batted in the second inning Monday.
After signing the contract, Hicks injured his right elbow that Aug. 3, missed the remainder of the regular season and five postseason games before homering in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against Houston’s Justin Verlander.
Hicks had Tommy John surgery performed by Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache that Oct. 30.
After undergoing that surgery, Hicks returned the following July for the pandemic-shortened season, but struggled mightily.
Hicks hit .212 with 19 homers and 80 RBIs in 244 games after the surgery, down from .236 with 82 homers and 276 RBIs in 654 games before the injury. His 2021 season was cut short May 12 because of a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist that required season-ending surgery May 26.
“He did a lot of good things for this team,” said Baltimore starting pitcher Kyle Gibson, who played with Hicks in Minnesota. “I know that he was injury riddled a little bit there towards the end of his stretch here, but playing with him in Minnesota and understanding how good of an athlete he is and how good of a player he is, he’s fit in really well here and we’re excited to have him.”
Orioles’ Aaron Hicks answers expected boos in the Bronx with HR