As if we needed more proof that spring training means nothing, Greg Bird’s slow — actually, let’s call it horrendous — start is the exclamation point on the statement.
Bird hit a ridiculous .453 this spring and led the Grapefruit and Cactus League’s in extra base hits. He was so good that I, along with many experts and analysts, started to predict MVP-level numbers for Bird.
After four games (before you say it: I know, it’s early) the Yankees’ first baseman and number three hitter has looked overmatched at the plate. Bird is 1-for-16, his only hit a soft bloop double in Tampa. He looks in-between on every swing; late on fastballs and off-balance on breaking balls.
Joe Girardi has hinted that Bird will sit on Saturday or Sunday. It will be a much-needed mental break for Bird, who was pinch-hit for with Chris Carter in the ninth inning on Friday night with the Orioles’ lefty closer Zach Britton on the mound.
In the field, Bird has looked equally as lost as he does at the plate. To me, that is more alarming than his slow start with the bat. It’s one thing to slump; every hitter goes through it and for Bird, who missed all of last season with an injury, you can sort of understand it despite his spring training statistics. But his play at first base has looked pedestrian.
In the Yankees’ first game he failed to handle a hard-hit but makable ground ball with Masahiro Tanaka struggling on the mound. On Friday, perhaps the turning point that allowed the Orioles to come back against the Yankees bullpen, came with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Chase Headley was charged with the error, but Greg Bird has to pick-up his infielder on that one-hopper. Bird’s lazy attempt on the scoop made him look like a player thinking more about his offensive woes than helping his team while in the field. It’s unacceptable, especially from a player of Bird’s importance.
I’ll say it again: it’s early. But so far on the young season Bird has been the most disappointing aspect of the Yankees sluggish start.