NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with a flexor strain in his right elbow, the latest blow to an injury-ravaged team leading the AL East by a wide margin.
After getting hurt on a throw Saturday night, Hicks had an MRI on Sunday and New York considered the results good news because the team feared he had a torn ligament that could require season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Hicks won’t throw for a week to 10 days, but the club is optimistic he’ll return this season - although it was too soon to project a timeframe. The ligament is intact, and surgery isn’t necessary.
“I think we were all kind of worried that it at least could be that,” Boone said. “Now it’s just making sure it’s healed and recovered.”
Hicks became the 16th player on the Yankees’ current injured list, joining a pair of slugging first basemen who just went down: Edwin Encarnación broke his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch Saturday, and Luke Voit has a sports hernia.
New York also is missing All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez (left groin strain), outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (sprained right knee) and pitchers Luis Severino (lat muscle), Dellin Betances (lat muscle) and CC Sabathia (right knee inflammation).
Sánchez likely will begin a minor league rehab assignment this week and is expected to rejoin the Yankees at some point next weekend in Toronto.
“Gary’s getting real close,” Boone said.
Despite all the injuries, New York began the day with the American League’s best record at 71-39 and an eight-game advantage in the AL East over Tampa Bay.
“I think you can throw out the record - I don’t remember this many people, obviously significant people, that have missed serious time for us. So, a credit again to those guys, though, that across the board, so many people have stepped up and impacted us winning games. They’ve really done a great job,” Boone said. “Anything adverse that seems to happen to this group, they don’t flinch. And they know what the expectation is, and they’ve gone out and delivered.”
Hicks was injured when he made a strong throw toward third base, holding a runner at second. He was removed from the game two innings later.
Hicks began the season on the IL after hurting his back early in spring training and didn’t play his first game until May 15. In the first season of a $70 million, seven-year contract, the 29-year-old switch-hitter is batting .235 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 59 games.
The roster move was made Sunday afternoon before New York tried for a four-game sweep of the rival Boston Red Sox. Left-hander J.A. Happ, scheduled to start the series finale, was reinstated from the paternity list, taking Hicks’ spot.
Brett Gardner was set to play center field, with Mike Tauchman in left and Cameron Maybin in right. Aaron Judge was the designated hitter, and shortstop Didi Gregorius returned to the lineup for the first time since rolling over his left wrist fielding a ball Wednesday.
“When I talked with him last night, he felt pretty good about where he was at,” Boone said. “So, obviously we’ll be mindful of it. We’ll watch him closely, but feel like he’s in a good spot.”
Mike Ford was at first base, with DJ LeMahieu receiving a rest after returning recently from a sore groin.
Despite the loss of Hicks, the Yankees chose not to recall outfielder Clint Frazier from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Frazier was sent down June 16. He had batted .283 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 53 games for the Yankees this year, but struggled defensively.
“Right now we feel like we’re covered in how we should be,” Boone said.
Gardner will play center field whenever he starts, spelled occasionally by Tauchman.
“Cameron Maybin can also play center, so from a center field standpoint we have some pretty good options day in and day out,” Boone said.
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