Hicks finds power stroke vs. former club

Hicks finds power stroke vs. former club

NEW YORK -- Once in a while, Aaron Hicks said, he'll shoot some of his old Twins teammates a text. But not too often. He's a Yankee now.

So while he said it was "pretty crazy" to play against his former teammates Friday night at Yankee Stadium, he added it didn't make it feel extra special when he delivered the final dagger in the Yankees' 5-3 win with his eighth-inning solo home run.

Rather, he was just happy to provide the Yankees with an insurance run.

"It felt really good, especially since it's my first homer from the right side," Hicks said.

Entering the game, both of Hicks' 2016 dingers had come from the left side. In addition, he had slashed .250/.287/.388 from that side, as opposed to .167/.239/.200 from the right side.

While he said he hasn't placed much emphasis on improvement from the right side of the plate, he has been working on "trying to stay long through the zone," and "really stay on my backside," so as to hit offspeed pitches better.

Hicks' homer came on an 80-mph curveball.

"I think his at-bats have been better, I definitely do," manager Joe Girardi said. "He got off to a slow start and I think he hit some balls hard early and didn't really have a lot of luck."

After the game, Hicks rattled off the names of Twins he "grew up with."

Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe came to mind first. Then Byron Buxton -- "I watched Buxton come up through the minor leagues," he said -- along with Robbie Grossman and Michael Tonkin.

The relationships he built in Minnesota were memorable. But with the All-Star break looming and the Yankees clawing to stay in the playoff race, Hicks was focused on the task at hand.

"It feels good just to help my team win," Hicks said.

Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.