Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks announced this morning that he’s giving up switch-hitting and will bat exclusively right-handed from now on, following in Shane Victorino’s footsteps last season for the Red Sox.
Hicks has been switch-hitting since little league and bristled at the idea of changing as recently as spring training, but he’s always been much more productive as a right-handed hitter facing left-handed pitching. For his big-league career–which is a relatively small sample of 118 games–he’s hit .179 with a .546 off righties compared to .227 with a .735 OPS off lefties.
However, it should be noted that his production off lefties thus far has involved Hicks having the platoon advantage, which he won’t have when facing righties as a right-handed hitter. Still, given how lost Hicks has looked from the left side of the plate it’s hard to imagine the move not improving his overall production.
Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.
Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.
As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.