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TODAY'S PAPER

Greg Bird gets start with Luke Voit fighting back stiffness

Greg Bird of the Yankees bats against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 29. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

MINNEAPOLIS — With Luke Voit battling mild back stiffness and Aaron Boone wanting to keep Greg Bird “relevant,” the latter for one night reclaimed his old position.

“Hopefully he can take advantage,” Boone said of Bird, who started at first base Monday and, if Voit’s back is still balky, could get the start Tuesday as well.

Bird came into Tuesday hitting .197 with a .670 OPS and having not started a game since Aug. 29 (his last at-bat came Sept. 2 when he pinch hit).

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Voit, of course, has been terrific, 20-for-56 with seven homers and an 1.169 OPS since essentially assuming everyday first baseman duties Aug. 24.

“Been wanting to get him [Bird] in there at some point and, obviously, Luke’s been so good for us and has kind of earned the everyday at-bats right now,” Boone said.

Boone said the combination of the late travel from Seattle to Minneapolis Sunday night, Voit’s back and righthander Kyle Gibson on the mound for the Twins, Monday was the right day to put Bird in.

“We don’t think it’s anything too serious,” Boone said of Voit’s back. “But it’s also something where I felt he [Voit] could benefit from a day today."

The ties that bind

Tyler Austin, whom the Yankees sent to the Twins along with Class A reliever Luis Rijo on July 30 for RHP Lance Lynn, spent considerable time catching up with former teammates and coaches before Monday’s game. 

“I was a little bit surprised but in this game you never know what’s going to happen,” Austin said of being traded. “It’s always difficult but I’m happy to be here.”

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Austin has seven homers in 20 games with the Twins but has missed four straight games with a back issue. The 27-year-old, drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2010 draft, said he hopes to play in this series at some point.