Greg Bird is already down in Tampa to begin his Spring Training workouts. Speaking with Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the Yankees’ first baseman discussed his 2017 injuries, the magical run the team made into October, and his expectations for the upcoming season.
Bird was one of the hottest hitters on the team last spring, launching eight homers and leading all other players with 16 extra-base hits. He was poised to become a staple in an already dangerous Yankees’ lineup that featured rookie Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. However, lingering issues stemming from a foul ball taken off his right ankle on March 30 landed him on the disabled list after just 19 games.
After a successful surgery to remove a bone from the ankle, Bird made his return on August 26 and his impact was felt immediately. In 29 games down the stretch, he slugged eight home runs, collected 25 RBI and hit .480 with runners in scoring position.
The 25-year-old didn’t slow down in October, either. He hit two dingers in the ALDS, including one off Andrew Miller in Game 3, and another in the ALCS. Now fully healthy, Bird is ready to prove that this small sample size was no fluke.
“I think people saw it, but I want to do it for a full season,” Bird said. “I’ve got to do it for a full season. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s what I want to do.”
Another thing that wasn’t a fluke? The “rebuilding” Yankees 2017 run.
“It’s a good feeling. We’re on the map, and that’s good,” Bird said. “We said we were going to surprise people last year. That was our thing, and this year it’s not a surprise anymore. We’re a good team and people know that. They’re going to be coming after us, and we’re going to be going after them.”
“I think there’s a lot of possibilities there,” Bird said. “I think our pitching staff has a chance to be really good too, which is huge. They’re going to carry us. The offense will be good, I think, and that pitching staff can do a lot of damage too. You match those up and you’ve got a great team. Then you make it a good clubhouse like it is, and it’s even better.”
Falling one game short of the World Series is a tough pill to swallow, but Bird is only focused on 2018.
“I was just ready to go again,” Bird said. “After we lost, it was upsetting, but it was like, ‘All right, let’s go again. Let’s get ready to go again.’ And who better to do it with than these guys? It’s an awesome group. We’re close and we know each other well. The sky is the limit.”