Hicks issued a statement about his decision:
The Athletic's Mark Saxon provided some context:
Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted the 12 other players who have opted out for the upcoming season amid the COVID-19 pandemic:
Hicks made 29 appearances for the Cardinals in 2019, posting a 3.14 ERA and striking out 31 batters in 28.2 innings.
He almost immediately turned heads in the majors. According to Brooks Baseball, his fastball and sinker have averaged more than 100 mph through his first two seasons. The movement on his slider his something to behold as well.
The 23-year-old right-hander was making progress in 2019, bringing his walks per nine innings down from 5.2 to 3.5, according to Baseball Reference. His season ended last June, however, when he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow.
Hicks' recovery timeline was initially set at 12 to 15 months. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold reported in May that Hicks' diabetes had slowed his rehab but that he'd likely be healthy enough to return to the mound this year.
Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals' leader in saves (24) is listed as a starting pitcher on the team's official site. St. Louis already lost John Brebbia to Tommy John surgery. Giovanny Gallegos has also experienced issues arriving for the team's summer training preparations.
Hicks' withdrawal adds more question marks to a bullpen that was already in a state of flux.