TAMPA, Fla. — If Greg Bird is concerned about the Yankees’ acquisition of Chris Carter, he isn’t saying.
In fact, the 24-year-old said Wednesday, he welcomes it.
Regardless of the two playing the same position.
“We’re excited to have him, honestly,” Bird said. “It’s another bat, and a good bat, and I think he can bring a lot to the table. I think it’s good for our team and I’m excited to meet him.”
General manager Brian Cashman said all winter Bird would compete for the starting first-base job with Tyler Austin, expecting the former to win the job.
But with Carter, who shared the NL lead in homers last season with 41, available at a relatively inexpensive price — one year at $3.5 million with incentives — and the 2017 lineup lacking proven power, Cashman pounced. The deal, given the green light by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who had Cashman on a tight offseason budget, won’t become official until Carter passes a physical.
Carter is not considered an especially good fielder but provides insurance should Bird, who missed all of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery, falter.
“I have to earn it, I think you always have to earn it,” said Bird, who hit 11 homers in 46 games (157 at-bats) after being called up in August 2015. “I missed the whole year , I have to prove to them that I can play again and play at a high level and be a quality part of the team.”
And just as Bird tried to talk to veteran first baseman Mark Teixeira, who retired after last season, as much as possible, he will do so with Carter as well.
“I’m just excited to get to camp and get going, and it will be a veteran to learn from,” Bird said. “Just like when I got called up, I told you guys, just learning from those older guys is fun. So it’s somebody whose brain I can pick and who you know has experience in the league. I think he can bring a lot to the table for our team, so it’s a big plus for us.”
Bird played in the Arizona Fall League but was limited to DH’ing as his shoulder did not allow him to play the field. Bird began making throws to second base during workouts toward the end of the AFL season and has done full work in the field since reporting here Monday.
“No limitations,” Bird said. “I’m right where I want to be. I feel great. Just excited and ready to go.”