Yankees first baseman Greg Bird has struggled mightily at the plate this April, but if he’s going to continue struggling, it’ll still come against major league pitching.
General manager Brian Cashman told reporters before Sunday afternoon’s game against the Orioles that the 24-year-old will remain as the team’s starting first baseman, and that a demotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre isn’t in the cards, despite Bird hitting a measly .107 in 56 at-bats.
“It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all,” Cashman told NJ.com. “It’s great that our major-league team is winning and that allows ourselves to work through maybe the lack of production early on here at first base. But he’s going to produce. He’s going to be a good player for us for a long time.”
Bird’s early slump certainly came as a surprise. Despite missing all of the 2016 season with a torn right shoulder labrum, his spring training campaign in Florida was astounding, as he hit .451 with 8 home runs, 16 XBH, and 15 RBI in 51 Grapefruit League at-bats. Before the calendar flipped to April, Bird was more than a glimmer of hope, but in the final spring game, he injured his right foot, an injury that lingered on past Opening Day.
While Bird doesn’t consider that injury as a reason to his funk, Cashman believes it made enough of an impact.
“Listen, I also know, he might not use this an an excuse, but he also blasted his leg pretty good in Clearwater,” Cashman said. “I think that’s affected him getting out on his good side at little bit, mechanically It’s something he’s had to battle through. Whether that threw him off the first three weeks, that had something to do with it. He’s settling in now.”
After seven games, Bird was 1-for-30 (.038), but the following game, it seemed as if he had awoken from his slumber. In the series finale against the Cardinals on April 16, Bird crushed his first home run, and finished 3-for-3 with two RBI. But it was only a taste of success, as he’s reached base safely just seven times since (five via the walk).
“It’s just a process and at times you go through rough times,” Bird told the NY Post on Thursday. “If I say something to someone, maybe that makes them have a good day. I’ve just got to stay positive. I feel like I’ve been on the right track. The quality of my at-bats being better has been huge. Sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
Gary Sanchez in Wrigleyville?
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, but it may not carry over into the weekend. According to Cashman, the 24-year-old will join the major league club in Chicago for the Cubs series, as long as Sanchez shows he’s ready.
“If that goes well, we’ll see him during the Cubs series,” Cashman told NJ.com.