Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Greg Bird

If Luke Voit is the incumbent, the Goliath, then you have to think that Greg Bird is David, right? I mean, aside from a big home run or two in the 2017 postseason, Greg Bird and his health have left much to be desired. Bird essentially lost his starting job at first base last season to Voit and is in camp looking to win it back. Can he do it? Only time will tell, but while we wait for it all unfold this spring let’s get reacquainted with the Birdman of New York.

Greg Bird, 26-years old, is a left-handed batting and right-handed throwing first baseman that was originally drafted as a catcher by the New York Yankees. Bird does not swing and miss as much as some, the lefty has right around a 33% swing and miss rate, but he will never be a .300 hitter at the MLB level either. Bird has an uppercut swing that could take advantage of the short porch inside Yankee Stadium if he is ever healthy enough to play a full, productive season.

Gregory Paul Bird was born on November 9, 1992 in Memphis TN. His family eventually moved him to Aurora, Colorado where the lefty swinging Bird attended Grandview High School. While at the school, Bird was a catcher and the battery mate of MLB pitcher Kevin Gausman. Bird was named the Colorado Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year as a senior and committed to attending the University of Arkansas to play college baseball. The Yankees drafted Bird in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB First Year Players Draft, hoping a $1.1 million signing bonus would convince him to bypass his commitment to Arkansas. Bird eventually signed with the Yankees and was immediately moved to first base.

Bird played four games after signing in 2011 and another 28 games in 2012, this time due to injury. Bird had a breakout season in 2013 and even won the Kevin Lawn Award as the Yankees Minor League Player of the Year. Bird reached as high as Double-A in 2014 before heading to the Arizona Fall League after the season, including a trip to the AFL Fall Stars Game. With an AFL MVP Award in his hands he headed back to Double-A, and eventually to Triple-A, for the 2015 season before the New York Yankees big league club came calling on August 13. Bird made his MLB debut that same night and ended the game 0-5. Bird became the Yankees everyday starter after Teixeira suffered a shin fracture on a hit-by-pitch that ended his season.

Bird suffered a right shoulder injury during the offseason before the 2016 season and was never quite right, even after a successful surgery to repair a torn labrum. Bird missed the entire 2016 season before heading down to the AFL once again to get some work in before the 2017 season. Bird made it through spring training healthy in 2017, we thought anyway, but an ankle injury that he sustained in the spring landed him on the disabled list on May 2nd, thus hampering what looked to be a strong season for the Yankees first baseman. Bird was later diagnosed with an injury to the os trigonum in his right foot and would need to have surgery to remove the bone. After missing 103 games, Bird returned to the lineup just in time for the 2017 postseason. Bird would come back and hit an integral home run off Cleveland Indians pitcher Andrew Miller in Game 3 of the ALDS, keeping the Yankees season alive. Bird served as the Yankees final out in Game 7 of the ALCS, ending the Yankees season just one game shy of the World Series.

Bird underwent ankle surgery in March of 2018 and returned off the disabled list on May 26, but he never seemed to fully have his legs under him the rest of that season. Bird struggled once again and saw him playing time diminish after the Yankees acquired Luke Voit in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, Bird will have to fight for his job back this spring and either win the job outright, or presumably head back down to Triple-A to begin the 2019 campaign. Nobody wants that, so let’s put in some work. Good luck, Greg. I am personally rooting for you and counting on you because I know a healthy Greg Bird not only makes the offense better in 2019, but it makes the defense significantly better as well. Get it done!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)