Yankees: Musings about Greg Bird and what his return will mean


The Yankees, by all accounts, will have a new face in their clubhouse as soon as next week. Actually, he’s an old face returning from an injury which has kept him separated from the team since April. How will the team dynamic be altered when he comes back?

Yankees first baseman, Greg Bird, said he would play again for the team this season and by God, it looks like he’s going to do it.

Bird will play five innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday night. If all goes well, and all indications are it will, Bird will rejoin the Yankees late next week.

Anyone who follows the Yankees is familiar with the saga of Greg Bird over the last two seasons, and there is no need to repeat it here. Except, that is, for one event that occurred earlier this season when some Jackass of a blogger questioned Bird’s heart.

The poor excuse for a “column” drew national attention, succeeding only in infuriating Joe Girardi and the Yankees. In a macabre way, it seemed to have an inspirational effect on Bird as well, and it was then he announced his intention to play again this year, despite medical reports indicating it was a maybe at best.

Greg Bird (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Three weeks ago, I wrote a column about Bird which in part included the following:

“Bird, from what we know, had successful and repetitive surgery to repair a small bone in his ankle. Almost immediately, he released a statement which reads in part:”

““In nearly four months since first injuring my ankle, it had been increasingly frustrating to have only questions and no answers,” Bird said. “All this time, I have wanted nothing more than to be out there playing the game I love as a member of the New York Yankees. “My season is not over. I plan to do everything in my power to return and help our team win in 2017.”

Bird will fly in with energy

Like others perhaps, I had my reservations based solely on Bird’s previous history with the team. But now, the discussion shifts. He will be back, and the question begs to ask, what effect will he have on the dynamic of the Yankees team currently residing in the clubhouse.

I can answer that in one word. Enormous. Much like Aaron Hicks, who returned from his injury after missing 40 games erupting with energy and enthusiasm, Bird will follow suite, giving the Yankees an influx of much-needed passion.

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No one wants to say it, so I will. The Yankees have been flat. They’re not necessarily playing flat, but they don’t seem to have that swagger they had earlier in the season. Yes, they’ve had their share of injuries, but that only joins them with all other teams in the league.

And yes, they are still the number one seeded Wild Card team. But where is that six-game winning streak they reeled off at the end of July? Truth be told, they are a sub-.500 team since they went 21-9 to begin the season.

This is not to berate any of the players, who Joe Girardi has prepared and ready to do battle in these dog days of summer. What’s missing, though, is the spark that Aaron Judge gave them in the first half. Judge can’t be expected to do it again, can he?

Opportunity knocks

Greg Bird, like Hicks, has something to prove. And there’s nothing in baseball better than having a player on your team who has a personal motivation system at work. At the moment, Gary Sanchez falls into the same category, and you can be sure he’s a little ticked off about the media attention, and even attention from his manager publicly, given to his defensive woes.

The proof will only come on the field. For Bird, this is like Spring Training Deja Vous. And the reminders about his disastrous beginning to the season are sure to be somewhere in the back of his mind.

Opportunity knocks for both Bird and the team. A shot in the arm from Bird and the return of Starlin Castro along with Hicks presents the makings of an entirely different team than we’ve seen in the month of August.

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At some point, with Bird in the regular lineup at first base, Girardi will need to decide what to do with the pairing of Chase Headley and Todd Frazier at third base.

But at this point in the season, Girardi will be happy to meet that complication. It’s been a long road for Bird. And you can say with authority and against all the odds, welcome back.