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Yankees have decisions to make when Greg Bird returns

First baseman is expected to return from injury this week, meaning Tyler Austin could be facing a diminished role.

Austin Romine #28 of the New York Yankees

Austin Romine #28 of the New York Yankees breaks his bat as he hits a RBI single in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ed Zurga

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Greg Bird could be back “sometime within the next week,” Aaron Boone said Sunday, meaning a tough call will be coming for the Yankees.

If Bird slides back into the everyday duties at first base when he returns, that means a diminished role for Tyler Austin. Trouble is, Austin, his 0-for-23 slide earlier in the month aside, has shown some impressive power much of the season, most recently Sunday.

Austin homered twice, including a second-inning blast that traveled an estimated 440 feet to left-center, in the Yankees’ 10-1 victory over the Royals. The performance gave the righty-hitting Austin eight homers, fourth on the club.

Whenever Bird is activated, the Yankees will have some decisions to make.

“I don’t even think about that,” Aaron Boone said. “Tyler Austin’s an important part of what we’re doing right now. Obviously, another huge day for him. He’s done a great job all year.”

Austin, hitting .261 but with an impressive .911 OPS and a terror against lefty pitching, said he’s not thinking about what will happen when Bird returns.

“Zero,” Austin said. “I haven’t thought about it at all, to be honest with you. I’m trying to take it day by day and when I’m in there, do my best to help this team win.”

Romine a hit

Boone said he and his staff challenged Austin Romine to be better offensively this season and the backup catcher has responded. Romine went 3-for-5, including a homer and a double, Sunday to raise his average to .326 and his OPS to .884.

“Catching’s always going to come first for me, that’s just how it is, that’s how I am, that’s how I got to the big leagues,” said Romine, a strong defender. “But when you can do it with the bat, too, it helps you feel more a part of the team.”

Frazier sent down

After the game the Yankees optioned OF Clint Frazier to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Though no corresponding roster move was announced, RHP Giovanny Gallegos, who was in Washington on Wednesday and would have served as the Yankees “26th man” for that night’s second game, is a strong candidate to be called up.

New York Sports