The New York Yankees are once again placing Greg Bird on the disabled list at the start of the regular season as the young first baseman continues to deal with problems around the area of his surgically-repaired right foot.
Bird was scratched from the Yankees spring training game on Saturday due to soreness in the area and after seeing foot specialist Martin O’Malley — the doctor who performed surgery on his injured right foot last season — it was deemed that he must undergo surgery to remove a bone spur from his right ankle on Tuesday and will miss six-to-eight weeks, via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.
Less than a month into the 2017 season, Bird fouled a ball off the top of his foot and was on the disabled list for the next three months following his first surgery, returning in August to help the Yankees in their run to the ALCS.
At 25 years old, Bird is considered to be the franchise’s answer at first base for the foreseeable future. His left-handed bat has shown flashes of power that will likely feast upon the short porch at Yankee Stadium.
In the 162-game averages calculated by Baseball-Reference that Bird has put up in his short MLB stint (94 games in two years), he could hit upwards of 34 home runs while driving in 102 runs in a full season.
His healthy presence in the Yankees lineup would add another imposing bat to an already loaded lineup that features Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. However, the 25-year-old batted .154 with one home run in 52 spring training at-bats.
Now, new Yankees manager Aaron Boone will have to test the depth of his roster in order to get by without Bird.
Tyler Austin has played 35 of his 51 career MLB games at first base, batting .236 with seven home runs and 20 RBI. The trend of promising power and low averages continued in spring training this year as the 26-year-old Austin batted .227 in 44 at-bats during the exhibition season with four home runs and six RBI.
Should Boone want a more reliable option, newly-signed Neil Walker could prove to be a much-needed utility infielder. While his primary position is second base, Tyler Wade’s strong spring ensured that there would be a platoon at the position. Walker has played 17 games at first base, 14 of them coming with the Milwaukee Brewers after he was dealt from the New York Mets last year.
If there is need to get both Walker and Wade’s bat in the lineup, the former could very well fill in at first base for the time being.