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Yankees Hot Corner – Hicks and Higashioka heating up

It’s hard to imagine that on July 8, two of the hottest hitters on the New York Yankees would be Aaron Hicks and Kyle Higashioka. While Hicks isn’t all that surprising given his immense talent, Higashioka is for the mere sake that he hadn’t had a Major League hit in 22 at bats until he came back up.

It was a warm night in the middle of Summer when the Yankees faced off against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball. Austin Romine had tweaked his hamstring earlier in the week, and Gary Sanchez had been on the shelf for a week or two recovering from a nasty groin injury.

In walks Kyle Higashioka, an unassuming backup catcher who has had a few cups of coffee with the Yankees but was under the Mendoza line in AAA. He’s a good defensive catcher but he’s a AAAA player at best.

Anyway, David Price had a rough go during the first couple of innings, giving up a myriad of home runs to a team that has always given him fits.  Higashioka is 0-for-22 at this point and looks overwhelmed.  All of a sudden;  CRACK.  Higashioka rips a home run into the second deck in left field.  The team goes crazy, then gives him the silent treatment as he walks back into the dugout.

It’s been a long road for Higashioka, and he’s just happy to be here.  It’s an amazing story considering how many times he’s been brought up and sent back down, but he just keeps trucking along.  What does he do the next couple of games?  Get two more hits, both home runs.  In seven games this year, he has three home runs.  If that isn’t special, I don’t know what is.

While the headline might be misleading as Higashioka is only hitting .190,  Aaron Hicks is legitimately heating up.  Hicks has always been a very good fielder and hitter.  His biggest problem has been staying on the field.  Like his injury prone counterpart Jacoby Ellsbury, Hicks has never been able to stay healthy for an entire season.  It’s always a hamstring pull here, a string of cramps there, and I’m sure a lot of frustration.

Regardless of if Hicks will ever truly put it together, he’s been excellent the past few weeks.  He’s eclipsed the 15 home run mark for the first time in his career (in only half the season no less), and is on pace for nearly 90 RBI.

Excluding Monday’s doubleheader against the Orioles, Hicks has 12 hits in his last ten games, including five home runs and a three home run game against the Red Sox.  He’s been tearing the cover off the ball, and has played great in center field all year.  If Hicks can stay healthy, he can be the stalwart CF the Yankees haven’t had since Bernie Williams.

It’s good to see the Yankees winning in all kinds of ways nowadays.  Whether it be the small ball tactics on Sunday with sacrifice bunts and singles, or the home run barrage on Sunday Night Baseball against the Sox, it’s always good to see the Yankees win.  It’s also nice to see guys like Hicks and Higashioka contribute in ways no one would have thought they could before.

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