When most minor league players are called up to the Major Leagues, they tend to look overmatched against opposing pitching, and many question whether they actually belong at the Major League level. However, in Greg Bird’s case, he was called up to be the backup first basemen to Mark Teixeira. And while Teixeira is currently sitting on the bench with a bone bruise, Bird is earning playing time and doesn’t appear to be overmatched by opposing teams.
Joe Girardi said before yesterday’s 4-3 win over the Twins that Bird was able to slow the game down and find his comfort zone at the plate. And finding Bird’s comfort zone in the batters box payed off when he hit two towering home runs and provided all the Yankees offense.
“I said he’s got a slow heartbeat,” Joe Girardi said during his post-game press conference. “And you can just see it. He doesn’t go out of the zone, he knows what he wants to do and has a plan and he executed really well today. … I think it comes from up above. I think it’s in his DNA, especially at that age. You see some players (who have that), but you don’t see a ton of players. A lot of players have to learn how to slow the game down but he seems, everything that I’ve seen and I know it’s a short amount of time but what I saw in Spring Training and what I’ve seen here, he’s able to do it.”
Not only has Bird impressed the manager of the New York Yankees, he’s also impressed his veteran teammates with the way he plays the game and carries himself in the clubhouse. If there’s one thing the veterans can agree on when it comes to Bird, it’s that the young rookie belongs in the Major Leagues.
“You feel like he’s been here for six months already,” Chase Headley said after yesterday’s game. “The guy is very calm. He has a great presence about him and fits in. He’s a great kid.”
Despite only being here for a week, it hasn’t hit Bird that he’s already earned the respect of his teammates and manager, and the words that have been said about him over the last few days will stick with Bird as he continues to play baseball with the Yankees for the rest of the season.
“You watch all of these guys, that’s how they play,” Bird said. “I guess it’s from watching them, watching how they do things. I just like to be even-keeled and level-headed and just kind of go out there and let the work I do before the game take over. … It’s so much fun for me to come in every day and just watch (the veterans). On the field. Off the field. In (the clubhouse). Talk to them. Hear what they have to say. It’s really special, and it’s stuff that will serve me well and I won’t ever forget.”