The Yankees signed Chris Carter to a one-year, $3.5-million contract to be first base insurance in case Greg Bird didn’t come back as planned after missing a year following shoulder surgery.

Bird ended up suffering an ankle injury after struggling early in the season, giving Carter consistent playing time. Unfortunately for Carter, he hasn’t hit. Last year’s co-leader in home runs in the National League [41 with Milwaukee] went into Tuesday night’s game against the Red Sox batting .180 with four home runs and 14 RBIs.

“He’s a pro,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “I think he knows that obviously he’s got to perform for continued playing time. He doesn’t need to be told that.”

Carter, who hit a solo homer in the fifth inning, batted ninth, but his playing time and even roster spot may be in jeopardy soon with Bird rehabbing in the minors and Tyler Austin catching manager Joe Girardi’s eye in Triple-A.

“We will continue to watch his progress,” Girardi said of Austin, who went into Tuesday night batting .333 in 14 games between Double-A and Triple-A. “He has played pretty well and our eyes will be on him.”

Cashman said the team considered bringing Austin to the majors after he finished rehabbing a broken foot. “We talked about whether he should come here or go there,” Cashman said. “But having him and Carter on the same team doesn’t make sense.”

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Bird (bone bruise, right ankle) was expected to play for Single-A Tampa Tuesday night and report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday after a day off, Cashman said, although rain could change that plan.

Trainer’s room

Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) said he “maybe” hopes to return when the Yankees begin a series in Oakland on June 15. Chapman said he will soon head to Double-A Trenton for a rehab assignment.