RAILRIDERS NOTEBOOK: Yankees Plan To Activate Hicks
MOOSIC — If this was it, Aaron Hicks heads to New York on a high note.
The rehabbing outfielder was scheduled to be the RailRiders’ designated hitter Sunday against Toledo, but steady rain washed out the afternoon. Because the Mud Hens don’t return to PNC Field this year, it will be made up as part of a doubleheader in Toledo this week.
It would’ve been Hicks’ third game with the RailRiders and the sixth game of his rehab assignment, during which he is 3 for 18 with two walks, but all three of his hits — a home run and two doubles — came Saturday with SWB. Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters in Tampa that the plan is to activate Hicks today.
Hicks, a switch hitter, walked away from Saturday’s game pleased with his right-handed batting, and said he felt like he missed a couple pitches from the left side of the plate. All three of his hits came from the right side off Toledo’s southpaw starter Matt Hall. He grounded out softly to righty pitcher John Schreiber in his fourth at-bat from the left side.
“Being a switch hitter, you just kind of deal with it,” Hicks said Saturday. “Some side is going to be hotter than the other.”
Even with the game rained out Sunday, RailRiders manager Jay Bell said Hicks would still be able to get his work in.
“I thought he did really well right-handed. I thought the swing was good,” Bell said. “He’s in there working (in the batting cage), going to get a good, full BP in. That’s what he was going to do today anyway. I’m certain that Phil’s (hitting coach Phil Plantier) working with him on his left-handed stroke.”
New York recalled reliever Chad Green from the RailRiders on Sunday, sending down Nestor Cortes Jr. after the lefty made his Yankees debut Saturday.
Green was demoted after posting a 16.43 ERA over his first 10 games of the season. He seemed to return to form with the RailRiders.
He opened three games and allowed two runs on five hits in 7⅓ innings. Green struck out 14 and walked just two, and both runs against him came his last time out, Wednesday against Indianapolis.
“I feel like I’ve made some strides in the last two weeks, for sure,” Green said Wednesday.
“Just trying to get back on the right track. Just fastball command, really. That kind of sets up everything else. My command’s been very good overall. Had a couple walks, but that happens. I like where my misses are right now.”
Cortes, who made his big league debut last season as a Rule 5 pick with the Baltimore Orioles, pitched two innings against Tampa Bay in his Yankees debut, and allowed three runs on four hits. He struck out two in a scoreless seventh inning, then a two-out infield single by former RailRiders first baseman Ji-Man Choi kept the Rays alive in the eighth inning and opened the door for Yandy Diaz’s three-run home run.
“It’s a good experience. He’ll draw from it,” Bell said. “It’s really going to be a big deal whenever he gets back here. I’m sure he’s going to be excited about the opportunity to have pitched.”
Cortes will slide back into the RailRiders rotation, which will stay with a necessary six-man cast. After today’s off day, the team plays seven games in six days.
Center fielder Billy Burns returned from the injured list Sunday and was penciled into the ninth spot in the RailRiders lineup. He had been out with a bout of gastroenteritis that popped up when the team was in Syracuse on May 4.
“It hit me second inning of that game, but I played through it because Nestor had a no-hitter,” Burns said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to say anything to anybody. Let’s just keep this game moving.’ ”
Burns grew more sick as the game went on, however, and was eventually replaced by Zack Zehner.
“I was so dehydrated from playing with it and not drinking enough water because I was nauseous that I just started seizing up — like, my hands, my arms, my face, my tongue,” he said.
Burns is hitting .262 in 21 games with SWB this year, putting up a solid .351 on-base percentage from the bottom of the lineup. He also leads the team with seven stolen bases.
“Feeling so much better now, but for like three days there, I was pretty bad; pretty bad shape,” he said. “Feeling a lot better, got my weight back up, so I’m ready to roll.”
The Yankees claimed utilityman Breyvic Valera off waivers from the San Francisco Giants on Sunday and moved Greg Bird to the 60-day injured list to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
Valera will report to the RailRiders.
The 27-year-old was batting .257 with a .396 on-base percentage in 24 games with Triple-A Sacramento this season. He is a high-contact hitter, striking out just 280 times in 918 games in the minors. On defense, he has played at least one game at every position except catcher and pitcher.
Originally a St. Louis Cardinals farmhand, he spent time in the majors last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.
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