Aaron Hicks’ hot spring could have him stealing playing time from young Angels outfielders

The former Yankees outfielder will be looking to ride the momentum into the 2024 season.
Los Angeles Angels center fielder Aaron Hicks (12) bats
Los Angeles Angels center fielder Aaron Hicks (12) bats / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels Opening Day outfield is essentially set. Mike Trout will, of course, be in center field, with Taylor Ward flanking him in left field. While a lot of Angels fans are probably expecting to see Mickey Moniak in right field on March 28th, don't be shocked if Aaron Hicks ends up on Ron Washington's lineup card.

No one on the Angels roster had a better spring than Hicks. The former New York Yankees outfielder signed a one-year deal this offseason, and hit .375/.500/.650 with six extra-base hits, including two home runs.

In fact, Washington gave Hicks a ringing endorsement during the final week of spring training. During an interview with MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, Washington said, "He’s (Hicks) been outstanding. He’s a veteran. He knows what he’s doing."

Aaron Hicks’ hot spring could have him stealing playing time from young LA Angels outfielders

Some Angels fans may dismiss that as so-called coach speak, but Washington is a no-nonsense type of manager. It may be unfair to unknowingly claim that Washington will give preferential treatment to the veterans on this year's Angels team, but Hicks is a prime candidate to see an increase in playing time over LA's other two options in the outfield.

Moniak had a solid spring, and will get time in the outfield as well. Angels fans will be eager to see if that .495 slugging percentage from 2023 carries over to the 2024 season. But Moniak is not a disciplined hitter. Last season, the former No. 1 overall pick walked just 2.8% of the time while racking up a 35% strikeout rate. That's not going to earn Moniak increased playing time in 2024.

Jo Adell will receive some at-bats as well, but Angels fans know all too well how that will end. Adell's been a disappointment since his major league debut back in 2020, and, just like Moniak, shows no patience in the batter's box.

Hicks may well have been signed as an insurance policy. With the Yankees paying the majority of his salary, it's not as if Hicks cost the Halos an arm and a leg. But his veteran presence on the ball club, in conjunction with his red-hot spring, could see the 34-year-old robbing both Moniak and Adell of at-bats this season.

During that same conversation with MLB.com, Washington said that all five outfielders will see the field. The Angels skipper had previously talked about finding one day per week for Trout to act as LA's designated hitter. But if Luis Rengifo is healthy, most of those starts at DH will likely be nabbed by Brandon Drury.

Ultimately, playing time will be based on how well this group of outfielders performs. If Hicks' spring performance carries into the regular season, Moniak and Adell might find themselves in a reserve role rather than part of the Angels starting lineup.

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