Posted on July 18, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Few players have been held back by injuries the past couple years as much as New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird. But Bird isn’t about to give up on himself or his season. After undergoing ankle surgery on Tuesday, a surgery the team believes could end his season, Bird has delivered the opposite message. The 24-year old first baseman insists that his 2017 season isn’t over and that he expects to return from his latest setback and play this season.
“This morning I underwent a successful procedure to remove the os trigonum from my right ankle,” Bird said in the statement Tuesday. “In nearly four months since first injuring my ankle, it had been increasingly frustrating to have only questions and no answers. 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.”
Of course, the Yankees remain skeptical about Bird, who has appeared in just 19 games this season. He originally went to the DL on May 2 and later suffered a setback during his minor league rehab. After his ankle refused to heal properly, the decision was made for Bird to undergo surgery, putting his season in doubt.
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“We expect about a six-week rehab,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said prior to Bird’s surgery. “You’re talking about (Bird) doing baseball activity the 1st of September. Is there a chance? Yeah, maybe.”
During his absence, Bird has also dealt with criticism about his desire to play. However, his strong words in Tuesday’s statement seem to answer any questions about how much he wants to play. It appears that despite six more weeks of rehab, Bird is willing to do whatever it takes to get back on the field.
However, when he’s been healthy this season, Bird hasn’t been all that productive. He has just six hits in 60 at-bats, striking out 22 times. Bird also missed all of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury, and he’s struggled to get his timing back at the plate. Even if he’s physically ready to play in six weeks, there’s no guarantee that Bird will be a productive player with the Yankees in a pennant race in the middle of September.
“It’s really tough to get on track when you’ve lost two years,” Girardi said. “Hopefully he can get back on track before the end of the season and get some at-bats and be helpful and productive.”
Despite Bird’s pledge to return, the Yankees appear to be looking for a first baseman at the trade deadline. Right now, the Yankees are trying to piece things together at first base with the likes of Garrett Cooper, Ji-Man Choi, Austin Romine, and Matt Holliday. But the Yankees may want a more established first baseman for the stretch run rather than relying on a DH like Holliday or young, unproven players.
The Yankees have recently been linked in trade rumors with Yonder Alonso. Other first base trade candidates include Lucas Duda, John Jaso, and Matt Adams. It appears the Yankees are at least kicking the tires on acquiring a more established first baseman rather than settling for their current options or crossing their fingers that Bird will come back healthy and productive.
Nevertheless, Bird says that he’s planning to come back before the end of the season and yet another injury-plagued year. It’s certainly commendable that Bird wants to do everything he can to get back on the field, especially after the criticism he’s received. But it doesn’t appear like the Yankees are banking on Bird being part of their playoff push in 2017.