Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yanks' Bird Must Wait

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yanks' Bird Must Wait

Article excerpt

TAMPA, Fla. - Every now and again this winter, Greg Bird would be reminded of a scene from late last summer - a six-week Yankees debut that seemed to rush by.

"Once the season ended, I kind of got to think about it a little more," Bird said of the big hits he produced as first baseman Mark Teixeira's understudy, in the season's most intense stretch. "Different memories come back once in a while."

Like the two, two-run homers he hit - the first of his MLB career - to single-handedly beat the Twins at Yankee Stadium. And the game- winning, 10th-inning, three-run shot he belted in a key, late September moment at Toronto.

"Obviously, it was exciting and fun," said Bird, which only compounds the pain of January's diagnosis of a torn right shoulder labrum and season-ending surgery.

"That was one of the more disappointing things for me," Bird said. "You get there, you get a taste of it, and now you've got to wait. But patience ... it serves you well in baseball."

From his corner of Yankees camp, Bird hasn't lost his sunny outlook despite the lost year.

"I just loving playing baseball. I've been looking forward to [camp] for so long, it's obviously disappointing," Bird said. "But I'm here. I'm talking to guys and trying to learn in other aspects of the game - seeing this game from a different perspective I guess this year.

"But it [stinks] not being able to be on the field and go to work with them."

Teixeira's fractured right shin, courtesy of his own foul ball, forced the lefty-swinging Bird into the lineup. He'd begun the year at Class AA Trenton and spent just 34 games at Class AAA Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre before being summoned to the Bronx.

By batting .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 46 games, Bird wasn't just a boon to the Yanks. He was a symbol for every prospect toiling in the Yankees' system.

"It was a confidence builder for sure. …

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