HOUSTON — Aaron Boone didn’t make it official, but Aaron Hicks let the cat out of the bag and said he will be on the Yankees’ roster when the ALCS opens on Saturday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Kyle Schwarber will have a pretty good idea of what Hicks will be facing.
Schwarber played just two games with the Cubs in 2016 before a torn ACL sidelined him for the rest of the regular season — as well as the first two rounds of the playoffs.
But Schwarber returned for the World Series and played a key role in Chicago’s historic title.
“The biggest thing is trying to get past the mental hurdle and telling yourself, ‘Hey, I’m good to go,’ ’’ Schwarber said by phone on Friday. “To believe in yourself after that much time not playing is not an easy task.”
Schwarber appeared in two games in the Arizona Fall League before rejoining the Cubs and recalled his first at-bat back, when he faced Cleveland’s Corey Kluber in Game 1 of the World Series.
“I got him to a 3-2 count before he got me,’’ Schwarber said. “But I knew I’d had a good at-bat and I went up there with that the next time and got a double and that got me going.’’
Schwarber wasn’t medically cleared to play defense, so he was a DH and pinch hitter and went 7-for-17 with that double, three walks and two RBIs in the series.
Hicks could return as a regular player or a defensive replacement for Giancarlo Stanton in left field, perhaps taking Cameron Maybin’s spot on the roster.
Either way, it has been an incredible turnaround for Hicks, who was shut down shortly after beginning a throwing program during his initial comeback attempt last month.
After he went home to Arizona following a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, told to rest his arm. Instead, Hicks soon resumed throwing, felt good and sent video of what he was doing to the Yankees, who eventually sent him to Tampa to continue his rehab.
That led Hicks to be an option for the ALCS, where Schwarber knows he will have challenges to overcome.
“It would be crazy to think he won’t have any doubt going in,’’ Schwarber said. “The only way to overcome that is to go into the box and do it.’’
“The energy level is going to be there,’’ Schwarber said. “It’s the playoffs. He’s got to remember that even though all the eyes will be on him, he’s got a whole team behind him so he doesn’t have to do it all. You don’t want the moment to overwhelm you. You want to be able to finish what you started.’’