For Bird, it means he has to prove that he belongs at first base when the season begins in April.
Bird, who missed the entire 2016 season with a shoulder injury, is expected to get a bulk of the playing time at first base while Carter plays against LHP. If Bird is still hurting from his shoulder injury, Carter could find himself getting more playing time.
However, Bird said that his shoulder feels “great”, but knows he has to deal with questions until he’s able to prove his swing is back to form.
“I missed a whole year,” Bird said to the media on Wednesday afternoon. “I have to prove to them that I can play again and play at a high level and be a quality part of the team.”
Bird hit 11 home runs when he was called up in August 2015, but had a disappointing Arizona Fall League when he hit one homer in 65 at-bats.
The Yankees still see Bird as an integral part of the youth movement, and they’d like to see his power return this season.
Two years ago, the Yankees saw Bird as insurance for the frequently injured Mark Teixeira. Now with Teixeira retired, the Yankees will rely on Bird even more. They just hope Bird’s injury doesn’t flare up during the season.
“I would say long. It was 12 months, but it felt like two years,” Bird said. “It was a long time, but this is what I was preparing for. I’m excited to get back to playing, get back into a baseball atmosphere.”