The Yankees have been in desperate need of another power bat to go along with the resurgence of Gary Sanchez and to make up for the continued struggles of Aaron Judge — and if Greg Bird keeps this up, he’s quickly going to find himself hitting next to Sanchez in the middle of the lineup.
With the Bombers needing every win they can get down the stretch to qualify for the postseason, Bird went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI out of the No. 8 hole on Thursday night, helping his team to a 6-2 victory over the Red Sox at The Stadium.
“I don’t care where it comes from, we just need it,” Joe Girardi said when asked about run production. “It doesn’t have to be the same guy every day, but we all know Greg Bird has that ability. We’ve seen him do it before, and it’s nice to see.”
The 24-year-old first baseman had gone 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBI in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Wednesday — one of the only bright spots as the Yankees were swept by the Indians. So this mini-stretch is certainly something Bird can build on.
Bird, who underwent right ankle surgery in mid-July, is now 6-for-18 (.333) with two homers and nine RBI in six games since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 26. He had been 6-for-60 (.100) with one homer and three RBI in 19 games before being shelved on May 2.
“I missed playing. I love playing,” said Bird, who hasn’t been able to play for essentially the past two years due to injury. “So for me, not being able to go out there every day was tough, but it is what it is. We’re through it now, and it’s good to be back.”
Even with Didi Gregorius rising to the occasion in the middle of the lineup, the Yankees have missed the production Judge and Matt Holliday (due back on Friday from the disabled list) gave them during the first half. And their offense — despite getting 12 homers and 25 RBI from Sanchez in August alone — has sputtered at times as a result.
On Wednesday, the Angels acquired Justin Upton and the Astros traded for Justin Verlander. The Yankees adding a lefty-swinging run producer like Bird is just as significant. Remember, he was their No. 3 hitter on Opening Day following a spring in which he batted .451 with eight homers.
This was supposed to be his coming-out party. Instead, he blasted that foul ball off his ankle in Clearwater on March 30, and hasn’t been able to regain form — until now.
“I mean, I don’t think you can expect anything,” Bird said. “You kind of have to roll with what you’ve got. That’s something that I feel like I’ve learned — especially in the last year-and-a-half, two years. You can just work and go out there and play. So now it’s great that I’m able to play again and be part of the team.”
After all the ups and downs — along with the starts and stops of his minor-league rehab stints along the way — and the surgery, Bird vowed in a statement that he would return this season — even if one Yankee insider questioned his desire to do so in a column written by the News’ Bill Madden. And with his ankle stable, he’s been able to drive pitches out of the ballpark again, looking exactly like the player Brian Cashman believed he could be all along.
Yes, maybe Bird will eventually be back in the middle of the lineup this September next to Sanchez, helping the Bombers try to extend their 2017 campaign into October.
“It was laid out in front of me that I was going to be able to be back,” Bird said. “I mean, I owe it to these guys to work my butt off to get back. So, it was tough watching them go out there every day and not being able to do it with them. I wanted to do everything I could to get back out here.”
He did. And the Yankees are better off because of it.
Greg Bird can be perfect power bat for Yankees’ postseason push – New York Daily News