What will the future hold for Greg Bird?

At this point in the season, it’s obvious that Greg Bird’s struggles are no secret. He’s currently batting .100/.250/.200 with one home run and three RBIs, and is just 6-60 on the season. That’s…. bad. Especially since three of those hits, including the home run, all came in the same game on April 16th against the Cardinals. Take that game away and Bird is just 3-57, or .053, on the year. Yikes. However, the Yankees recently placed him on the 10-day disabled list with a bone bruise in his right ankle. What will happen to him once his ankle is fully healed?

Photo via Brian Blanco of Getty Images

Bird’s ankle injury isn’t new. He fouled a ball off his ankle towards the end of spring training on March 30th, and it just hasn’t healed since then. The Yanks actually sat him for a few games during the first series against the Orioles in Baltimore when they learned about this, and apparently they thought Bird would be able to play through the injury. As a result of this, and not letting the ankle heal all the way, Bird continued to struggle and now will be shut down for seven to 10 days from all baseball activity. Man, the Yankees really did not do a good job of dealing with that. When he was placed on the DL, Bird said, “I tried to get through it as best I could, but it’s frustrating. I definitely think I’m better than what I’ve showed, and I know I’ve said that. I know what I’m capable of.”

We all know what Bird is capable of the .261/.343/.529 slash line with 11 homers and 31 RBIs that he put together in 2015. His performance two years ago shows that he can be a force at the plate. Bird didn’t just forget how to hit once the regular season came around. His ankle injury has a lot to do with his struggles. Take a look at these two tweets from Bryan Hoch:

Yeah, that's definitely something more than just Bird struggling. Playing through a bone bruise is not easy at all. Injuries like that need time to heal, and time to heal is exactly what the Yankees didn’t give Bird. They kept sending him out there expecting him to break out of his struggles, but it didn’t work, and now they are worse off.

Photo via Paul J. Bereswill
So where does this leave Bird for the future? I would imagine the Yanks play it safe this time and really wait until another MRI shows that the bone bruise is completely gone; no point in doing anything other than that. In the meantime, the Yanks have Chris Carter penciled in at first base for the foreseeable future, with Rob Refsnyder, and maybe Chase Headley and Austin Romine (or Bryan Mitchell?) as his backups. Given the way that Carter has swung the bat so far this season, that is far from an ideal first base depth chart, but hey, the Yanks had the best record in baseball at one point even with Bird struggling as much as he did. They’ll be fine. 

The Yanks definitely will send Bird down for some minor league rehab games before he comes back. My thinking is that if he continues to struggle, they may have him play at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a little bit longer. The dude needs to get his confidence back, as well as his health. He always seems very upbeat and positive in interviews, but I can’t imagine what’s going on in his head. Let him play a few games at AAA, sock a few dingers, and then come back.

In the meantime, Tyler Austin could come off the 60-day DL at some point in the near future and serve as the Yanks primary first baseman while Bird is recovering. If Austin can cut down on his strikeouts and continue to mash homers over the short porch in right field, Bird might be in AAA for longer than expected. You never know. 

Photo via Jim McIsaac of Getty Images
Overall though, Bird just needs to take it easy. If the ankle injury is the sole purpose of his struggles, then it’s a much bigger problem than the Yankees have led us to believe. That ankle is going to take a while to heal, so rushing him back would be the absolute worst thing to do. It’s not like the Yanks need Bird to save their season. They’re doing just fine. Let the kid rest and hopefully he will come back and start hitting.

Article by: Alex Weir
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