In 2018, Bird started the season but struggled so much that they were forced to acquire Voit, who finished the year batting .333 and hit 14 homers. His astounding hitting streak was uncharacteristic of him, but it certainly earned him the starting job in the year ahead.
The expectation is that Bird will play a secondary role to start the year and earn repetitions gradually. In two seasons as a professional, Bird hasn’t broken a .200 batting average, but GM Brian Cashman has still instilled faith in the young infielder.
Manager Aaron Boone stated in regard to Bird:
Aaron Boone said there is “definitely a noticeable difference” in Greg Bird’s swing and how he is impacting the ball.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 20, 2019
A foot injury derailed the development of Bird and affected his hitting prowess. With the ailment fully healed he should be able to extract more value than he’s produced in past seasons.
The major benefit that Bird contributes to the team is a lefty bat. The Yankees don’t have much diversity in that category, only featuring Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Didi Gregorius as lefty hitters – only Hicks is an everyday starter.
The Yankees’ first baseman commented on how he’s feeling, according to ESPN:
“Very confident,” Bird stated in regard to his lingering injuries. “I was able to have a normal offseason. I’m just in a place where I want to be.”
“I took some time off. I got to where I need to be, and then in January, started up like I normally would. It’s been great so far.”
Finding a way to build on his skill-set has been difficult when injured, but Bird is hoping he can finally begin to continue his growth:
“To get healthy,” Bird stated. “To get back to a point where I could build on what I had. To have a foundation to start with, and to be able to get back to a place where I could be me.” All of the lifting, throwing, hitting and defensive work he has done prior to spring training came last month.”
The position battle between Voit and Bird will be interesting, as the team has invested a lot of effort and patience in the development of Bird, a solid defender with better hitting abilities than he’s displayed. Hopefully, he can finally reach his full potential in his third professional season.