26° Good Evening
26° Good Evening

Greg Bird not distracted by 'untouchable' label and focuses on some big-league reps

Greg Bird #31 of the New York Yankees

Greg Bird #31 of the New York Yankees follows runs out a fourth-inning RBI base hit against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

If you turned on the Yankees game in the top of the sixth inning Tuesday night to see a pinstriped first baseman gracefully turning a 3-6-3 double play, you'd probably assume it was Mark Teixeira.

But with Teixiera out with a bone bruise on his right knee, it was Greg Bird flashing the leather at first in the Yankees' 8-4 win over the Twins.

"He's done a good job over there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, "and may be called into duty for a few days."

In a short amount of time, Bird has had a lot thrown his way: high praise from the general manager, replacing a three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glover on the diamond, and a leap from the minors to the big-league starting lineup.

Still, the 22-year-old's calm, cool demeanor has persisted through each phase of his ascent, and was evident again Tuesday night.

"I'm just having fun out there," Bird said. "It's been a blast. I couldn't ask for more."

Batting out of the sixth spot in the lineup, Bird went 2-for-4 to up his average to .286 through his first four games. He also picked up his first major-league RBI with a single that scored Carlos Beltran in the fourth.

"We've all been impressed by Birdy," Teixeira said. "He's got a really good swing. He doesn't let anything bother him. So hopefully, you're going to see more good things."

Bird's quick climb through the system might have surprised some, but he's been preparing for it since the beginning of the year.

"The one thing I've heard is you just never know," Bird said. "Once you get to Double-A, all bets are off. You can go any day. For me, it was just kind of getting ready and taking it day by day but knowing that there's always a chance and you never know what could happen."

In rising from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton to the majors in less than two months, Bird has been able to compare each level side by side.

"It's different in some ways," he said, "but it's still baseball. I still do the same things every day. It's different cities, bigger cities, stuff like that. But it's still the same game."

Bird, the Yankees' fifth-round draft selection in 2011 out of Aurora, Colorado, was rendered an untouchable asset by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approached. In 83 minor-league games this year, he has a slash line of .277/.356/.469 with 12 homers and 52 RBIs.

Girardi said: "It's got to make a player feel pretty good that the club feels highly about your abilities in the short term and the long term. Because there usually aren't too many of those in a system."

Bird remains unfazed.

"I didn't really pay a whole lot of attention to it [Cashman's "untouchable'' label], to be honest," he said. "I guess it's good for the confidence. I mean I'm confident in what I do every day and the work that I put in and how I prepare . . . People said stuff, I guess. But I just go out every day and try and get better and focus on baseball."


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports