BOSTON — Greg Bird is closing in on a return to the big leagues.
The rehabbing first baseman, coming off a two-homer night Friday against Durham, started a fourth straight game Saturday night for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and went 2-for-4 with a double.
Bird was 4-for-10 with two homers, four RBIs and three runs in his first three games with Scranton. “He looked pretty good,” said Joe Girardi, who watched Bird’s at-bats on video Saturday. “We’ll continue to monitor his progress.”
Bird, dealing with a bone bruise in his right ankle that necessitated surgery in July, has not played in the majors since May 1. He was 6-for-60 with one homer and three RBIs. He missed the entire 2016 season because of shoulder surgery.
The Yankees will start a three-game series in Detroit on Tuesday night. Girardi wouldn’t rule out a possible return by then, though he made it clear that decision will rest with the Yankees’ medical staff and front office.
“You have to remember he has not played a lot in two years,” Girardi said. “But they might say he’s ready and we might take him.”
Jordan Montgomery, who allowed three runs in five innings Friday night, was sent back to Triple-A, the corresponding roster move as CC Sabathia was activated from the disabled list to start Saturday night. Montgomery is on an innings limit — in the neighborhood of 180 — which the Yankees will continue to manipulate in the minors.
“The innings are so much more stressful up here,” Girardi said. “We’ve tried to limit some of the innings with him and because of injuries [such as the one to Sabathia], it hasn’t worked. He’s really pitched pretty well, but we’re trying to reduce it.”
Montgomery, who threw 139 1⁄3 innings last season, is at 126 this season. Girardi said Montgomery, 7-6 with a 4.00 ERA, is likely to be recalled Sept. 1 when rosters expand.
Tanaka all set
Girardi said Masahiro Tanaka, on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, is slated to return Tuesday night and start against the Tigers.