Yankees first baseman Greg Bird has, unfortunately, become more known for his unsettling injury history than he has for his on-field performance. Earlier on March 24th, Bird had felt some discomfort in his right foot, the same foot he injured last year, which caused him to miss 114 games. An MRI revealed that Bird is dealing with inflammation in his right foot, and he will visit a foot specialist on Monday in New York. In 2016, Bird suffered a torn labrum that caused him to miss the entire season.
Brian Cashman was clearly disturbed by the injury, as he disclosed to Sweeny Murti of WFAN. According to early tests, the latest ailment sustained by Bird is (unsurprisingly) linked to the aforementioned injury he suffered last year when he fouled a ball off of his foot. If Bird is to miss significant time again, it will mark the third consecutive season in which the Memphis native will have missed all of or much of the season.
Originally penciled in as third in the lineup for the spring exhibition game against the Braves on Saturday, Bird was removed from the lineup upon informing staff and teammates of his newest setback after batting practice. Despite his gluttony of injuries, the Birdman has proven he can showcase his potential. In 2015, after taking over for an ailing Mark Teixeira, posted a .871 OPS (and 135 OPS+) across 46 games, proving to have been an effective Plan B for Teixeira, who himself had dealt with many injuries in his time as a Yankee.
It is unrealistic to expect Bird to be on the field for Opening Day against J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays on Thursday the 29th. While it is certainly detrimental to the Yankees, it is not a cause for panic. The most likely plan is to have Neil Walker man first base (he has 86.1 innings of MLB experience there), and to have Tyler Wade, who had a very solid spring training, play second, Walker’s natural position.
Some have mentioned calling up prized prospect Miguel Andujar, who was recently sent down to Triple A. The young hot corner man has been given some reps at first base before and will continue to see some in the minors. Others have brought up the fact that Mike Napoli is still available as a free agent, along with Adam Lind, who was released by the Yankees a while back. While those options are feasible, they are unlikely to happen, as Cashman himself has said that options for Bird will be internal.
Another injury caused mild upheaval yesterday, but thankfully one far less minor than Bird’s. Incumbent third baseman Brandon Drury, acquired from the Diamondbacks back on February 20th, was hit in the left elbow by a pitch, but X-rays came back negative. While there is some swelling on the elbow, skipper Aaron Boone has said it is nothing to be worried about, especially considering the depth of the Yankees’ bench.
Jonathan Holder was awarded the final roster spot, beating out Domingo German. Last year, Holder registered a 117 ERA+ and 3.62 FIP in 39.1 innings of work. The Opening Day roster will feature 13 pitchers in total. For now, his status on the roster is tentative, but he has certainly held his own during spring training, producing a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings, and has struck out 11 of the 41 batters he has faced.