Second shot does the trick for Yankees' Hicks

TAMPA, Fla. -- Two days after receiving a second cortisone shot for his injured lower back, New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks said Tuesday that he felt pain-free.

"Right now I feel great. I've got no pain right now," Hicks said. "I'm walking around and doing all my core stuff, and my bike has been great. I did 20 minutes on the bike [Tuesday], and it went well. I feel like I'm doing well."

Hicks has been sidelined since early March with a tight back. Officially, he has been diagnosed with chronic back pain. He said the condition began Feb. 27, when the Yankees traveled 35 minutes east to the Detroit Tigers' spring training complex in Lakeland, Florida.

"I got off the bus and it felt tight; I couldn't swing," Hicks said, adding that he even cut short a few pre-batting practice swings because of the pain.

"Came back the next day and it was still tight ... [then] played the night game two days later, and that's kind of where I knew something was wrong."

It was after a game against the Orioles on March 1 when the Yankees temporarily shelved him, believing he just needed a couple of days off.

He hasn't played since.

"I came to spring training ready to go, ready to start the season strong and to just play as many games as I can," Hicks said. "To kind of have spring training be cut short for me and prevent me from getting ready for this season kind of sucks.

"But I have to get ready for the season, and once I'm able to get back on again, that's what I'm going to do: prepare to get ready for the season, even though it's going to be a lot shorter than I'd like. I have to do a job, and I have to be ready for it."

Hicks said he isn't sure what the next steps of his recovery will be, but he imagines the next test will be to see whether he can get through swinging and other activity without pain. It was while doing such exercises on Saturday when he discovered he would need a second cortisone shot.

"The first one definitely hit the spot, for sure. I made really big gains on that one," Hicks said, referring to the injection he received on March 11. "The second one, I just feel like it was a little bit more to the left and it needed to be tended to. That was to knock it fully out."

Hicks signed a seven-year extension last month that will keep him under contract through the 2025 season. The deal will pay Hicks $70 million over seven years, according to sources, and includes a club option for 2026.

He is coming off a career season in 2018, when he set highs for games played (137), home runs (27), RBIs (79), runs scored (90) and WAR (4.7).
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