Aaron Hicks decided to sit out Monday’s game against the Blue Jays in response to the fatal police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minn., Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Monday.
Giancarlo Stanton also considered not playing in the wake of the incident, in which Daunte Wright was shot by officers during a traffic stop. Stanton was in the lineup as the designated hitter, going hitless in the Yankees’ 3-1 victory.
Boone said that Hicks approached him about two hours before the scheduled first pitch of Monday’s game in Dunedin, Fla., expressing hesitancy about playing.
“He’s having a tough time right now,” Boone said. “We had a conversation in my office, and he just felt like it was best to not be in the starting lineup tonight. I certainly support that, and we’ll try to rally around him the best we can. The situation is heartbreaking right now in Minneapolis, and it’s hit him particularly hard.”
Hicks had been in the original lineup for Monday’s game, batting sixth. Mike Tauchman started in center field instead.
Hicks has strong ties to the Minneapolis area, having been drafted in 2008 by the Twins, with whom he played his first three Major League seasons (2013-15). Hicks and Stanton were also among the most vocal Yankees in support of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer.
Both players kneeled in the outfield at Nationals Park prior to the 2020 season’s second game in late July, a statement that Boone and general manager Brian Cashman both supported on behalf of the organization.
“Aaron is hurting in a huge way,” Boone said. “I think in a way he felt like it was probably the responsible thing to take himself out, knowing that it was going to be hard for him to be all-in mentally in what’s a high-stakes, difficult job to go out there and perform for the New York Yankees.”
According to Boone, Hicks went through his pregame routine, performing defensive work in the outfield and taking batting practice. Hicks was on the bench for the whole game and remained engaged with the on-field action.
“I can’t walk in Aaron’s shoes, but as a teammate, my job is to support him and make sure he’s doing all right,” starting pitcher Gerrit Cole said. “So if that’s an arm around him or a pat on the butt, whatever he needs to go through emotionally, we’ll be here for him.”