Yankees Greg Bird Still Not Cleared to Play First Base in AFL

Oct 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Scorpions designated hitter Greg Bird of the New York Yankees bats against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Scorpions designated hitter Greg Bird of the New York Yankees bats against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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While his rehab is progressing well, New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird will be limited to DH in the Arizona Fall League for the immediate future.

New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird is off to a hot start in the Arizona Fall League, going 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI double in his first official game action of the 2016 season Tuesday, and following that up with a 2-for-4 showing with two more doubles and another RBI the next day.

When asked by Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media how he felt following Tuesday’s game, Bird sounded pumped to be back on the field, responding, “Awesome! I felt good. I felt good baseball wise and health wise, so it was awesome.”

At the moment, Bird is the favorite to win the Yankees 2017 starting first base job even after missing the entire 2016 campaign to shoulder surgery, so it is incredibly encouraging to see him driving the ball so well this early.

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With almost no proven power bats in their lineup as constructed at the moment (sorry Brian McCann), the team will count on young guys like Bird, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez to step up and claim spots in the middle of their lineup.

However, it does sound like Bird does still have a little ways to go in his rehab process to be 100%. According to Miller, Bird has not yet been cleared to throw, so he will be unable to play the field for the time being for Scottsdale. He is taking some ground balls before games, but can’t do anything more strenuous than easy lob throws at the moment.

While that is not ideal, the most important thing for Bird is that he’s getting some reps at the plate against advanced competition. There’s no substitute for game action for hitters, and if Bird is going to win a starting job next spring, the 100-plus plate appearances he is expected to receive during the Fall League should give him a nice head start.

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Losing Bird back in February was one of the most crushing disappointments of the 2016 season. Getting him healthy again and in the lineup with some of the other Baby Bombers who emerged this year will be incredibly fun.