Can Greg Bird Return Strongly Following Surgery?


Greg Bird will miss the 2016 season with surgery to fix a torn labrum in his right shoulder.  While Bird didn’t have a role on the Major League roster this season, the surgery complicates matters moving forward.  Bird, who is a key part of the New York Yankees future, was slated to be next in line if Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez suffered an injury in 2016.

There are a lot of questions regarding Bird, such as how the Yankees will replace the protection he offered behind two of their aging sluggers.  The most important question, however, is whether Bird can return as the player he showed flashes of being after a late-season call-up in 2015.

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Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who had a similar surgery on October 16, 2012, was able to return on May 6, 2013, and was an All-Star in 2013, turning it into a five-year, $85-million contract with the Yankees.  McCann believes that the rehab is key to coming back strong:

"Once it healed up, it was ready to go.  I had to grind through [the 2013 season] with some pain, but it kept getting better and better.  It is a tough surgery to have, but if you are not a pitcher, I really do think if you do the rehab you can come back easily.  It hurt me more to throw than to hit when I came back.  If I did not have to catch, I feel I could have come back sooner."

Although McCann was able to return about seven months later, the Yankees do not want to rush Bird back.  McCann was a key part of Atlanta’s team, and already a veteran, while Bird is a key part of the Yankees future, so it makes sense for the organization to hold off rushing him back.

While McCann was in a situation where the team needed him back in the lineup as soon as possible, Bird has the luxury of being able to fully rehabilitate his shoulder before returning, and I believe that could lead to Bird returning very strong in 2017.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman believes that Bird can return strong, but refuses to use McCann as a comparison, stating:

"I go off of what the doctors say, and they are very optimistic that [Bird] will return to form.  Any previous study, either way, doesn’t influence me.  Let’s just see how it plays out."

Cashman’s assessment is true, as no two injuries are the same making it unwise to assume McCann’s recovery relates to Bird’s, but Cashman also has never been optimistic publicly.  Bird is an important part of the future, and the Yankees are wise to ease him back into everyday baseball activities.

What do you think Yankees fans?  Will Bird return strongly in 2017?  Let us know in the comments below.

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