Greg Bird would be smack dab in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup and youth movement if he hadn’t missed the season after February shoulder surgery.
The best the 23-year-old first baseman could do Monday was take batting practice in the cage at Yankee Stadium. He started swinging a bat Aug. 1.
“I think I’m coming along well,” Bird said. “I’m right where I need to be. I just got done taking BP in the cage for the first time, so that’s fun. Felt good.”
Bird, who is expected to replace the retiring Mark Teixeira in 2017, will continue his rehab in instructional league and then report to the Arizona Fall League. If all goes well, he will head into spring training with his rehab behind him.
“It’s definitely something you can’t prepare for at all,” Bird said. “It’s, I would say, challenging. You’re working toward something, but it’s hard to see. As it’s gotten closer, obviously, it’s kind of like light at the end of the tunnel. Now I’m really starting to see it. But it’s tough.”
Bird joined the Yankees late in 2015 and hit .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 46 games. Yankees fans can picture the lefthanded hitter sliding into the 2017 lineup with Gary Sanchez and the rest of the Baby Bombers, but Bird isn’t looking that far ahead yet.
“The anticipation for me is just baseball,” Bird said. “Getting back here, playing with these guys. Even just being here, I’m excited. I feel at home here.”
The Yankees placed Aaron Hicks (hamstring) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday . . . Joe Girardi said “Johnny Wholestaff” will replace Chad Green on Wednesday. That means the starting pitcher could be a reliever and then whoever is available will follow. Bryan Mitchell is a possibility to start . . . Alex Rodriguez’s old locker was assigned to Eric Young Jr.