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Boone balancing time for Bird, Walker, Drury

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Since his return from the disabled list on May 26, Greg Bird has shared first-base duties with Neil Walker, but with the recent addition of Brandon Drury to the roster, both Bird's and Walker's roles may be altered.

Prior to Drury's callup, the Yankees lacked offensive production from their first basemen. Entering Friday's series against the Red Sox, Bird had slashed .196/.308/.435 after being activated.

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NEW YORK -- Since his return from the disabled list on May 26, Greg Bird has shared first-base duties with Neil Walker, but with the recent addition of Brandon Drury to the roster, both Bird's and Walker's roles may be altered.

Prior to Drury's callup, the Yankees lacked offensive production from their first basemen. Entering Friday's series against the Red Sox, Bird had slashed .196/.308/.435 after being activated.

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"For me, balance is key," Bird said. "I really tried to slow things down in my work and just find that balance. Just ride it out, really. Just ride out the ups and downs. That's the biggest thing. Keep going. Keep trying to find it. Keep working at it."

In 12 games in June, Walker hit a mere .063 with 12 strikeouts in 32 at-bats. In those contests, he made five appearances at first base, three at third and two at second, and served as a pinch-hitter twice.

"This whole situation is new for me," Walker said. "I'm learning to navigate through playing a little, trying to figure out what works and so on and so forth. It's been a tough stretch personally, but no one's going to feel sorry for me, nothing like that. I've just got to try to stay as positive as I can and help this team in whatever way I can. My job is to bounce around the infield and help the team in any way I can. I know I will get back on track."

Manager Aaron Boone called upon Drury -- who was slashing .314/.419/.488 with 13 doubles, five homers and 29 RBIs in 48 games in Triple-A -- to return to the big leagues on Friday to help bring a much-needed spark to the offense, especially from the first-base position.

Drury made his first start at first in Saturday's 11-0 loss and contributed a fine defensive play in the second inning on a ball hit by Boston's Mitch Moreland.

Video: BOS@NYY: Drury robs Moreland with a diving play

But Bird showed what his bat was capable of on Friday, logging his second career multihomer game. Boone said that Bird's big night may cause him to think a little bit more when deciding whether to play Bird or Drury, although Drury got the start on Saturday.

"Hopefully last night was a big step forward for [Bird] as far as shaking off some [rust]," Boone said. "I look at it as, he's still coming off of surgery. I absolutely feel like he's over the injury, but I still think he's building up that stamina. I think fatigue sets in with it every now and then, so I feel like we are building him up still in that regard."

As the Yankees look to do that, Drury may get a few more starts at the new position. And now that Walker has to share time with both Drury and Bird, it's easy to assume that his role would become even more limited, but Boone said he will still try to get him as many regular at-bats as possible.

"It's still a pretty small bench for us right now. I believe we're at three players," Boone said. "Hopefully there's still spots where we can try and keep [Walker] as fresh as possible. I don't know if his role necessarily changes that much. Because we like Walk so much better from the left side, that's a little bit of a balance with Drury, so we have a little bit of a right and left balance there.

"We'll see if there's spots, and I'm sure there will. Things come up all the time and change your situation daily here. With a three-man bench, hopefully there's still some good opportunities for him."

This date in Yankees history

June 30, 1961: Whitey Ford ran his June record to 8-0 in eight starts with a complete-game, 5-1 victory against Washington, becoming the first pitcher in American League history to win eight games in one month.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Greg Bird, Brandon Drury, Neil Walker