Yankees Sanchez And Bird Form Mutual Admiration Society


Yankees spring training has been full of home runs and highlights. And no two players have contributed more than Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird. While seeing their success since joining the Yankees might surprise some, Bird and Sanchez are used to the sight. And to being happy, they hit in the same line-up.

Yankees fans are salivating at the prospect of seeing Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez hit in the same order. And how could they not? Both men came up and gave Yankees Universe plenty to be excited about, and that has intensified this spring.

We watched Bird come up in 2015 and prove he deserves a longer look. He slashed .261/.343/.529 with 11 home runs in his first 46 games. Bird only got 41 plate appearances, because even as a rookie he was able to work 19 walks, but got 20 extra-base hits out of them: 9 doubles to go with the homers.

Prospects are made with that which coated the Maltese Falcon; they are the stuff of dreams.

That means that Bird’s OBP not only equaled Brett Gardner’s (.343), a man whose job it is to get on base, but it dwarfed Ellsbury’s: .318. And at the same time, his Slugging (SLG) was second only to Mark Teixeira (.548). Yankees fans were seeing a future star.

Of course, we all know what happened the next year. Bird was out, and Sanchez was in. You don’t need me to repeat his eye-popping numbers. Instead, just watch this video. Come back to the article when you have repeated that, like, ten times.

And if that is still not enough, just watch any Yankees game broadcast by another team this spring. They spend half their time talking about Gary Sanchez…and the other half talking about Greg Bird. They, like Yankees fans, believe they are seeing two great hitters. Unbelievably, Sanchez looks as good as he did last year while Bird looks better than in 2015.

Seeing Is Believing

But it is not a surprise for two men: Bird and Sanchez. They have seen it all before and, like us, they like what they have seen and are thrilled at a second viewing. Bird made that crystal clear in this piece by The Post’s Dan Martin:

"“I can’t wait for the chance to play with him again,” Bird said after Sanchez’s first-inning homer. “I’ve always enjoyed it. What Gary is doing is not a surprise to people who have been around him so long. He’s always been capable of it. Now people are seeing it come to fruition on a bigger stage. It’s awesome to watch and awesome to be a part of.”"

And when Sanchez was given a chance, he returned the compliment. After watching Greg get hastily inserted in the lineup earlier this spring, and proceed to go 2-for-3 with a home run, Sanchez told Eric Boland:

"“I’m seeing the same exact player that I’ve always seen, so I’m not surprised at all,” Sanchez said through his translator. “He’s a really good player.”"

And if the understated nature of Gary Sanchez leaves some doubt as to the level of their mutual appreciation, well, a picture speaks a thousand words. Just watch them together in the dugout the next time either one hits a home run.

You will see plenty of head-slapping congratulations by everyone on the team. But, after the procession, you will see these two men exchange an extra, private smile; a special feeling of pride and happiness for what the other man is doing. It exudes from them in those moments and permeates Yankees universe.

Yankees Begin to See the Future

Of course, they have great reasons for that appreciation. Sanchez and Bird have seen it all before, night after night, starting in 2014. That’s when both men arrived at the same time and place: Double-A Trenton.

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Sanchez started the year there while Bird was promoted for the last 27 games. Bird collected 18 walks and 24 hits in his short time, of which 15 were for extra bases (7 home runs/8 doubles). If that kind of production looks familiar to you, how must it look to Gary Sanchez?

Gary had already had his come-to-Jesus moment about his baseball career by the time Bird arrived in Trenton. His recent suspension and birth of his daughter combined to bring a focus and intensity to match his obvious natural talent.

He hit 13 home runs that year, good enough for second on the team, and added 19 doubles. He had 116 hits, again the second most on the team, while getting 43 walks. And he led the team in RBI’s by a wide margin with 65; the next closest man had 51.

Here in New York, all we read about was the big signing bonus, and a player stuck at Double-A with an attitude problem. All Greg Bird saw was a great player and run producer.

The Vision Becomes Reality

So in 2015, this happened:

"Slugging outfielder Aaron Judge and first baseman Greg Bird hit back-to-back homers, catching prospect Gary Sanchez collected three hits and two RBIs…to lead the Thunder to an 8-2 win over the host Portland Sea Dogs on Sunday."

Oh, and this:

"An inning later, catcher Gary Sanchez blasted his ninth homer run of the season — a solo shot — over the left field fence. Earlier in the game, the Thunder also scored two runs in the third on a ground-rule double by first baseman Greg Bird."

This one’s a video so you can see for yourself:

And it kept going at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; this article even comes with a video:

"Bird finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored. He slugged his homers in the first and fifth innings, both off Columbus right-hander Josh Tomlin. Bird added a one-out triple in the third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Yankees’ No. 7 prospect Gary Sanchez."

Most of us didn’t see any of that. We didn’t read the daily box score. Bird and Sanchez had front

New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (33) is congratulated by catcher Gary Sanchez (24). Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

row seats, however. They saw what the other could do and enjoyed seeing the talent in the same lineup. You can see that Aaron Judge was right there with them but still must produce for the Yankees.

Living in the Future

But Bird and Sanchez must have seen it, even back in 2014, and thought about playing together in Yankees uniforms. They might even have talked about it, even with the language barrier. 2014 probably saw the birth of big dreams for themselves and each other.

Now those dreams have become a reality for the 2017 Yankees.

Prospects are made with that which coated the Maltese Falcon; they are the stuff of dreams. We read the draft reports and any big news but otherwise see these players only in our imaginations. They do big things there and lead 15 parades down the Canyon of Heroes. But the image is blurry, and we know not to trust our vision.

Because the reality is that most prospects never make the majors. And those that do rarely become stars before our eyes. From Austin Jackson to Jesus Montero to Rob Refsnyder, Yankees and Yankees fans were all convinced each of these men had Big Time written all over them. Jackson has done the best and is far from a star in the MLB.

So we are always pleasantly surprised to see that a player is as good if not better than advertised. That was true for Greg Bird in 2015 and doubly so for Mr. Sanchez in ‘16.

But they were not surprised to see what the other did. They had seen it all before. And they had hoped to see it from the Yankees dugout. Now that dream has become a reality, and happiness, for Sanchez and Bird.

And seeing all of that has made everyone in Yankees Universe smile.