NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Rookie first baseman Greg Bird not only plugged a big hole in the Yankees’ lineup in 2015 when Mark Teixeira went out with a leg injury, he was one of the team’s hottest hitters over the season’s final two months.
But it appears Bird’s 11 homers in 46 games weren’t enough to earn him a roster spot with the big league team to start 2016.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday on the YES Network that Bird will likely begin the season in Triple-A Scranton.
“We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the roster shakes out,” Cashman said. “He doesn’t have the utility aspect of outfield (and) infield. So it’s really first base (and) DH. I think more likely he’ll start at Scranton. But again, as we experienced here last year, there’s a lot of injuries that come our way, and it’s nice to have Greg Bird waiting in the wings if something occurs.”
Teixeira was enjoying his best season in several years when he fouled a ball off his right leg in August, fracturing his shin. He finished the year batting .255 with 31 home runs — numbers too good to warrant being Wally Pipped.
A day after the Astros eliminated the Yankees in the American League wild-card game, Cashman told WFAN’s Mike Francesa he was already leaning toward sending Bird back to the minors.
Bird’s “performance was tremendous, but obviously what Tex was doing was superior, from the defensive and offensive sides,” Cashman said then.
In Tuesday’s YES interview, Cashman also discussed the possibility of having newly acquired second baseman Starlin Castro play some third base and said he’s hopeful Alex Rodriguez will have another strong season, but at his age — he turns 41 in July — “you just don’t know.”