Maligned Yankees Outfielder "Excited" For Shift Ban

Facing a shift in 92.6% of his at-bats in 2022, no New York Yankee had to deal with the fielding shift more than beleaguered and oft-maligned left fielder Aaron Hicks. 

Needless to say, after a season in which he hit just .216 with a .642 OPS, no one in the Yankee clubhouse is happier to see the newly-instituted ban on the shift than Hicks. 

“It’s exciting to be able to go into the season with no shift, especially since that’s all I’m used to,” Hicks told Greg Joyce of the New York Post. 

“There’s definitely going to be more opportunities there, especially towards the middle-right side of the field... I feel like there’s a lot of pitches I couldn’t swing at [in the past] because the result would be right at them, especially right up the middle — that middle-right side,” Hicks said.

Of course, as Joyce points out, the shift wasn't the only problem plaguing Hicks in 2022, but its banishment certainly couldn't hurt as he tries to rescue his Yankees career after a series of consecutive dismal seasons. And the fans aren't letting him forget it, even here in the early days of spring training. 

Hicks was a 1st-round pick of the Minnesota Twins back in 2008, and has spent the past seven seasons in Pinstripes. 2018, however, is the last time he really had an impact, when he hit 27 home runs with an .833 OPS. Yankee fans haven't seen that version of Hicks since then.

The 33-year-old will try to use that new open space on the right side of the diamond to win back the left field job this spring training; he's facing competition from Oswaldo Cabrera and non-roster invitees Willie Calhoun and Rafael Ortega. 

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports