Mere months ago, Greg Bird stole Yankees fans’ hearts, but the love affair is already on hold.
Bird will miss all of the 2016 season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, the Yankees announced Monday. According to a news release, the injury is a recurrence of an injury first sustained last May. Bird will undergo surgery Tuesday, with the operation performed by Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek.
Losing Bird is certainly a blow to the Yankees. Playing every day in place of the injured Mark Teixeira, the 23-year-old Bird hit .261/.343/.529 in a 178 plate appearances in 2015, for a .312 TAv that ranked just behind Tex for best on the team (minimum 100 plate appearances). Bird was likely to begin 2016 either in Triple-A or on the bench but offered essential insurance in case of an injury to Teixeira and the equally brittle Alex Rodriguez.
Without Bird, the Yankees’ backup first baseman situation is cloudy, with Dustin Ackley and Brian McCann the only players on the roster outside of Teixeira with semi-substantial experience at that position. Brian Cashman might have to break his free agency silence to find someone to provide help at first.
More importantly, Bird’s injury means a lost year for one of the Yankees’ most promising young players. Bird came up last year as one of New York’s top prospects but far from a can’t-miss superstar, and while his performance in August and September gave Yankee fans hope he could be a key part of the team’s long-term future, 2016 was supposed to be the year he showed whether he’s a potential star or merely a solid contributor.
See you in 2017, #GREGBIRD. The Yankees will miss you.
Lead photo: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports