Credit: Brian Blanco (Getty Images)
After missing the past few games with a sore foot and illness, Greg Bird returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Thursday night, in the Yanks’ 3-2 comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Ultimately though, Bird wasn’t a major factor in the Yankees’ victory. The factors were Aaron Hicks, who hit 2 home runs from both sides of the plate, and starting pitcher Luis Severino, who allowed only 2 earned runs while striking out a career-high 11 batters. Bird meanwhile, went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts and a fly out to left. He is 1 for 20 this season, that one hit being a double in the first series in St. Petersburg, and is hitting a dismal .050. It is only 9 games into the season, so there is plenty of time for Bird to break out of this. But how much can the Yankees put up with him swinging and missing so much? After tearing through spring training and hitting long balls at a furious pace, Bird not only doesn’t have a home run this year, he doesn’t even have an RBI. He did have a chance tonight to attain it in the 6th inning with Starlin Castro on second. With Rays’ starter Matt Andriese consistently throwing his first pitch for a strike, Bird pounced on the opportunity and swung at Andriese’s first offering.
It was one of Bird’s best swings of the season so far. He lined the ball sharply into left field. Unfortunately, it was too close to left fielder Peter Bourjos, who put it away for the second out of the inning. Other than that one moment, Bird had another uneventful day that he’d like to forget. With Tyler Austin still on the DL, the Yankees are shifting between Bird and Chris Carter occasionally. So far, neither of them have proven that they deserve to play at first every day this season. First basemen have been the Yankees’ main culprit in not producing offensively for the past few years, dating back to the steady decline of Mark Teixeira. Although the Yankees have been producing well offensively so far, there’s still so much more of the season still to go, and right now Bird looks totally lost at the plate.
He can obviously turn it around, but he better do it sooner or later if he wants to keep his job. The Yankees are in a high scoring division, and they need contributions from all of their players. So far, everybody has seemed to come through offensively at least once this year, except Bird. The Yankees cannot also rely too much on Chris Carter because he strikes out too often as well. Bird has enormous potential and is the clear candidate to be the starting first baseman. But he better break out of this slump very soon, especially when tougher opponents start coming up, which starts tomorrow night as the Yankees take on the St. Louis Cardinals at the stadium for a 3-game interrelate weekend series matchup. The schedule is going to get more grueling, and if the Yankees want to return to the postseason, everybody needs to pitch in together.