NEW YORK -- Greg Bird will take a significant step toward his first big league at-bats of the season on Thursday, suiting up for the Class A Advanced Tampa Tarpons in their 6:30 p.m. ET contest against Florida at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Bird has been playing in extended spring games to test his surgically repaired right ankle, recovering from a March 27 procedure. Yankees manager Aaron Boone estimated that Bird could rejoin the big league lineup within 10 to 20 days.
"I think one of the good things for Greg is that he basically had a full Spring Training," Boone said. "That being said, we've obviously got to build him up to where he's playing nine innings back-to-back and bouncing back and all those things."
The Yankees had estimated a six-to-eight week recovery at the time of Bird's procedure to remove a small broken spur from the outside of Bird's ankle. A right ankle injury limited Bird to 48 regular-season games in 2017, though he delivered some of the Yanks' biggest hits in the postseason.
With the 25-year-old Bird on the disabled list, the Yankees have been alternating between Christopher Austin and Neil Walker at first base.
"We're very optimistic as far as where he is in his return and feel like we're starting to see the light at the end there," Boone said. "Hopefully that process of actually being assigned to a club and the rehab clock starting is happening any day now."
Meanwhile, infielder Brandon Drury is expected to continue his Minor League rehab assignment by having his services transferred back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre from Double-A Trenton on Thursday. Drury is continuing to receive treatments, but Boone said that Drury's dizziness and blurred vision have not completely subsided.
"We feel like he can still be a dynamic player if he's getting significant improvement and it is managed," Boone said. "That is a constant conversation that we're having between Brandon and us, with Brandon and the doctors. We're just trying to get him in the best possible place to be a contributor for us, because we very much believe in the talent and the guy."
Rosa Lapaix of Manhattan has been selected as the Yankees' honorary bat girl in support of the annual "Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative, which will be commemorated prior to Sunday's game against the Athletics.
A single mother, Lapaix was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer last June. She had a mastectomy in July, then underwent four months of chemotherapy and later began daily radiation treatments for six months.
Lapaix said that the diagnosis was challenging for her 12-year-old daughter, Laura, whose grades were impacted as she became isolated from her friends. One of the things that brought them joy was sitting together and watching the Yankees on television.
"Now that I am almost done with this grueling process, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Lapaix said. "The finish line is quickly approaching and soon I will return to my job. I am looking forward to the summer, being able to participate in activities with my daughter again, and most importantly my life after cancer."
Louisville Slugger will donate proceeds from the sales of pink bats, which will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo, to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer. MLB will also donate its licensed uniform royalties through Mother's Day apparel to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer.
Tommy Kahnle (right shoulder tendinitis) threw 20 pitches in the Yankee Stadium bullpen on Wednesday, while supervised by pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Kahnle said that he threw fastballs, changeups and sliders in that first mound session since going on the disabled list, and expects to be activated later this month.
"I can gauge myself, and in that bullpen, everything felt great," Kahnle said. "It looked like it was coming out hot. I feel fine right now."
Right-hander Adam Warren (right back strain) also played catch on flat ground and said that he is scheduled to throw off a mound on Monday.