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Did the Yankees cut this player because of his golf habit?

January 26, 2024

Julio Aguilar

The MLB's hot stove didn't produce any notable transactions on Thursday, but rather one juicy rumor.

It comes from former All-Star catcher A.J. Pierzynski and it involves ex-Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks. We've written about Aaron a lot through the years because in addition to being a big leaguer, he's a big-time golfer who once had PGA Tour aspirations.

Hicks is known to frequent the celebrity golf circuit, he's made a hole-in-one on a par 4(!), and he's even married to Tiger Woods' niece, Cheyenne Woods. But according to Pierzynski, it may have been his love of golf that caused his messy exit from New York last May, when he was first designated for assignment and then cut. Specifically, that he continued to play in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, a tournament that's both a celebrity and LPGA event.

“I don’t know if this is true or not, but Aaron Hicks used to play in this event a few years ago, and the Yankees told him he had to stop because they thought that’s why he was getting injured,” Pierzynski said on the "Foul Territory" show. “I don’t know if that’s true or not, but there was a rumor about that they told him he had to stop playing golf.”

Hmm. Couple things here. First, A.J. says he doesn't "know if this is true or not" twice. Second, it's A.J. Pierzysnki, who always had a reputation as a pot stirrer. Third, he was hitting .188 when they cut him, so that probably had a little more to do with the decision. And fourth, unless he really got injured specifically at this event—tough to tell considering how much time Hicks spent on the disabled list during his time in New York—it doesn't make sense that the Yankees would make such a big deal about this one tournament.

After all, it's in January, weeks before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Heck, Mets infielder Jeff McNeil just won last week (Hicks finished eighth in the celebrity porition) and the Mets network's Twitter handle posted a celebratory message about it. (To be fair, there's not much else to celebrate in Queens these days.)

By the way, Hicks actually had a nice rest of last season after being picked up by the Baltimore Orioles, but the 34-year-old is currently a free agent. Meaning he can play as much golf as he wants.