Exploratory Surgery On Ankle May Not Be Necessary, And Bombers May Not Have To Make A Trade After All

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees need a first baseman. They’d prefer to have the one they envisioned playing the position coming into the season.

Greg Bird has missed the last two-plus months due to a rather mysterious right ankle injury. The ailment has left a serious void in New York’s lineup.

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Bird was expected back from the ailment a while ago, but suffered a setback during a rehab assignment. Though subsequent tests showed no problems with the ankle, Bird kept complaining of pain. The Yankees hinted that the 24-year-old could undergo exploratory surgery, and then reportedly started exploring potential trades.

Yankees first baseman Greg Bird hits a single during the second inning of the AL Wild Card Game against the Astros on Oct. 6, 2015, at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Bird said as recently as Sunday he felt pain “in everything I do,” adding “Now, it becomes more of a problem hitting. Plain and simple. That’s the biggest problem I’ve had so far. So, it’s frustrating. We’ve tried a thousand different things. It’s just, I still have problems, which is odd. But it’s been frustrating, really.”

However, Bird visited a specialist on Monday in New York City and has since been taking batting practice with the Yankees’ Class A club on Staten Island. The hope is he will begin a rehab stint soon.

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Bird missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury suffered early in 2015. He had a tremendous spring training, but fouled a pitch off his ankle during an exhibition game against Atlanta late in March and then limped through a 6-for-60 start at the plate once the games started to count.

In Bird’s absence, the Bombers have trotted, among others, Chris Carter, Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder, and Ji-Man Choi out there, but they’ve been unable to get the job done. Carter was eventually designated for assignment twice and is now out of the organization, and Austin played in just four games before suffering a hamstring strain that could keep him out for a considerable amount of time.

The four have combined to hit .188 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 90 games, horrible numbers for  a power production position.

New York started the season 21-9 and reached its high-water mark on June 12 (38-23), but has since lost 18 of 25 and went into this week’s All-Star break 3 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL East.

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The Yankees resume play Friday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.