Bird is another reason Yankees are flying in the Bronx
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK (SPORTS)- Greg Bird got hold of a 0-1 pitch off Minnesota Twins righthander Ervin Santana in the fourth inning Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. That ball went to the second deck in right field and scored Carlos Beltran who had singled. That was the beginning of more to come for the Yankee rookie who is in the lineup because Mark Teixeira is day-to-day with a bruised right shin.
And after a second two-run homer in the sixth inning off a Santana changeup that sailed into the Yankees bullpen, that also drove in Beltran, the word was all about Bird in the Bronx. He is next in line to succeed Teixeira at first base and the prospect is providing a preview of what may be ahead.
The two home run balls were all the Yankees needed in a 4-3 win over the Twins, their eighth series sweep of the season. Nathan Eovaldi won his eighth straight game on the mound with seven innings of four-hit ball and Dellin Betances converted his eighth save retiring all three in the ninth.
So the Yankees, who brought up Bird form Triple-A Scranton six days ago, have unveiled one of four prospects that are supposed to be so much like a previous “core four” in the Bronx of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitet and Mariano Rivera.
Eovaldi retired the first 16 Twins and continues to be an elite starter for manager Joe Girardi. But it was Bird who took the spotlight and for now, or at least until Teixeira is ready to return, Yankee Stadium fits him well.
“Anything I can do to help...nothing more, nothing less,” Bird said when asked about his day in the Bronx. “End of the day, just trying to do my job here. It’s a team effort.”
The left handed bat is one aspect of his game. Bird also brings a good game to the field and can also handle the outfield if needed, however first base is where the Yankees see him as they go forward when the Teixeira era ends in the Bronx.
With the first two home runs of his career, Bird the 22-year old fifth round draft pick from Aurora Colorado, became the first Yankee hitter with two go ahead home runs in the same game since Robinson Cano did that on August 27, 2012 against Toronto. And he is the first Yankee to hit his first career home runs in the same game since Jesus Montero back in September of 2011.
Girardi was raving about the outing Eovaldi (13-2) had on the mound, but Bird was the word and so were the comparisons.
“This is a big comparison and I’m not saying that is what my expectation is, but Miguel Cabrera had a slow clock and really had an understanding of what he wanted to do,” said Girardi who is beginning to witness first hand what Bird brings to the table. And there is also that understanding now, and a reason GM Brian Cashman said that Bird was one of the untouchable prospects as the Yankees move forward.
Girardi added, “And I think Greg Bird has an understanding of who he is and what he wants to do.” Girardi managed Cabrera with the then Florida Marlins in 2006, a two-time American League MVP with the Detroit Tigers and a ten-time all-star.
Girardi also mentioned that Bird does not go after pitches out of the zone. “He knows what he has to do and did very well today,” he said. As for Bird, he expects to be a part of this Yankees winning formula for a long time. There is that feeling the Yankees will keep him around the next few weeks before rosters expand on September 1st.
“Get ready for tomorrow,”Bird commented. “My parents are still in town, so that’ll be fun. But we’ve got another game tomorrow and I think that’s what everyone’s focused on now.”
Spoken like a veteran in the dog days of August and determined that Bird is the Word in the Bronx.
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