Greg Bird showed promise in 2015 when a season-ending injury to Mark Teixeira thrust the then 22-year-old into a starting role for a playoff team. He smacked 11 home runs with a .268 ISO in 46 games, but unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to build on that campaign. Bird's 2016 season ended before it even began with shoulder surgery in February. He returned to action in the Arizona Fall League, but hit just .215 with one home run in 17 games. With Teixeira now out of the picture, Bird is in position to open up the season as the everyday first baseman. The lefty's power will be a natural fit with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, but he'll need to find a way to cut down on his strikeouts to really take the next step forward (29.8 percent strikeout rate in 2015).
Manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday that he is "leaning toward" batting Bird third in the order, the Associated Press reports. In the new-look Yankees batting order, Jacoby Ellsbury bats fifth behind Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez, Bird and Matt Holliday. By breaking up Gardner and Ellsbury (both lefties) at the top, Girardi feels "it makes it harder to navigate" through the lineup. Bird has been on an absolute tear this spring, smacking 15 extra-base hits (seven homers) in 55 plate appearances, solidifying his grip on the starting role at first base.
Bird cranked his seventh home run of Grapefruit League play Saturday against the Blue Jays. Bird has been smashing the ball, tying Kansas City's Peter O'Brien for the most homers in the spring. Of his 20 hits this spring, 15 have been for extra bases. He missed all of the 2016 season due to a tear of the right shoulder labrum, but apparently he is ready to make up for lost time.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed that Bird will be the team's starting first baseman, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch reports. Bird might have faced a bit of pressure from Chris Carter if he had struggled this spring while returning from labrum surgery, but the 24-year-old has put the issue to rest by posting a .421 batting average and four home runs in 38 Grapefruit League at-bats. Bird also made the most of his 2015 late-season call-up, recording a .261/.343/.529 slash line with 11 home runs in 46 games (157 at-bats). He could still be rested semi-regularly against southpaws but should be locked into the lineup against all right-handers.
Bird is expected to be the team's starting first baseman, Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News reports. Following the retirement of Mark Teixeira at the conclusion of last season, Bird appeared to have the inside track to take over at first base and it appears he still maintains that edge despite the late offseason signing of Chris Carter. Bird missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury and though he was only able to participate in the Arizona Fall League as a DH, the 24-year-old is heading into spring training fully healthy and with no restrictions.
Bird (shoulder) was activated off the 60-day DL on Monday, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports. Bird missed the entire season after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in February, but he's been slowly ramping up activity lately and was able to take batting practice in September. The 23-year-old is hoping to make up for the lost season by playing in the Arizona Fall League. With the retirement of Mark Teixeira, Bird enters the offseason as the team's likely starting first baseman next season.