Hicks will be leading off and playing in center.
In addition to Hicks’ return to the lineup, the Yankees made other changes. Brett Gardner, the reserve who had been taking Hicks’ place the past two-plus games, will remain in the batting order. He’ll bat ninth and move to left field.
Gardner will replace Andrew McCutchen, the outfielder the Yankees acquired via a waiver-deadline trade at the start of September. McCutchen has started practically all of the Yankees’ games in left field since his acquisition.
Gardner has a .286 career batting average against Boston’s Game 4 starter, Rick Porcello. The 56 at-bats Gardner has against Porcello are the most of his career against any pitcher.
Hicks’ return comes a day after manager Aaron Boone had expressed a desire to give the outfielder one more day off to give the tight right hamstring a little extra time to heal. Hicks, who had a similar hamstring injury in his left leg during the final week of the regular season, was removed from Game 1 of the ALDS last week after feeling discomfort in his right leg.
Hicks had felt the tightness just before the ALDS opener at Boston, but assumed it was just cramping. He tried to play through it. During a fourth-inning base hit, Hicks slowly ambled up the first-base line. A couple pitches later, he was evaluated on the field by Boone and athletic trainer Steve Donohue. Following their evaluation, Hicks was removed. An MRI the day after revealed no damage to the hamstring.
Boone said Monday that he had strongly considered starting Hicks for Game 3. According to the manager, Hicks tried hard to state his case for playing. Had the game ultimately not turned into a blowout, Hicks likely would have played late as a defensive replacement.