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Cashman: Wins allow Bird to work things out

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- The Yankees saw Greg Bird punish the ball with consistency this spring, tying the Nationals' Bryce Harper for the big league lead with eight home runs, and that performance is buying him time to work on his issues in the regular season.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Sunday that demoting Bird to the Minors is "not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all," despite the 24-year-old managing just six hits in his first 56 at-bats (.107). Bird was on the bench Sunday against Orioles left-hander Wade Miley.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees saw Greg Bird punish the ball with consistency this spring, tying the Nationals' Bryce Harper for the big league lead with eight home runs, and that performance is buying him time to work on his issues in the regular season.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Sunday that demoting Bird to the Minors is "not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all," despite the 24-year-old managing just six hits in his first 56 at-bats (.107). Bird was on the bench Sunday against Orioles left-hander Wade Miley.

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"You've just seen us respecting the ability. He's going to come around," Cashman said. "I feel like he's coming through it and he's impacting the ball better. I think he's putting together good quality at-bats. He just hasn't had the results to show for it; he's just fallen short, whether it's a foul-ball home run or a ball to the wall, but I think he's driving it."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi pointed to Bird's deep flyout to center field in the eighth inning of Friday's 14-11 victory, caught by the Orioles' Adam Jones on the warning track, as one example of a barreled ball for which Bird has not been rewarded.

"He's hit some balls hard and hasn't had some luck," Girardi said. "He's just missed a few balls, so he's due. That's the good thing. He's due, and he's going to get really hot."

Bird's slow start comes after he missed all of 2016 while recovering from right shoulder labrum surgery. He slugged 11 homers in 157 big league at-bats at the end of the 2015 season and had been rated as one of the Yankees' top prospects for years prior to his callup.

"You don't forget that," Cashman said. "There's ebbs and flows. It's great that our Major League club is winning. It allows ourselves to work through the lack of production early on in the first month at first base. He's going to produce. He's going to be a good player for us, we feel, for a long time."

Cashman suggested that the bruised right ankle that Bird sustained on a foul ball in the Yankees' final Grapefruit League game had a more dramatic impact than Bird has let on.

"He's not going to use it as an excuse, but I think he blasted his leg pretty good in Clearwater, [Fla.]," Cashman said. "I think that's affected him getting out on his front side a little bit mechanically. It's something he's had to battle through. Whether that threw him off in the first two or three weeks, I'd say that had a little something to do with it, but I think he's settling in now and it's not going to be an issue."

Bombers bits

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (right biceps strain) could rejoin the big league roster in time for the upcoming series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, which begins on Friday. Sanchez has not played since April 8 at Baltimore, and will begin his Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Tuesday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"We'll see him during the Cubs series if all goes well," Cashman said. "We'll leave it all open. Right now, our hope is that we'll have him back for next weekend. If something leads us to think that he needs more time, then we can do that as well."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

New York Yankees, Greg Bird