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Ankle progressing, Bird could be back by May

Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, who has needed surgery on his right ankle each of the past two seasons, said Sunday he doesn't believe this will be a career-long issue for him.

"I don't have a bad ankle," said Bird, speaking publicly for the first time since his March 27 surgery. "That was told to me by the doctor. I just had a bone spur that had to be taken out."

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NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, who has needed surgery on his right ankle each of the past two seasons, said Sunday he doesn't believe this will be a career-long issue for him.

"I don't have a bad ankle," said Bird, speaking publicly for the first time since his March 27 surgery. "That was told to me by the doctor. I just had a bone spur that had to be taken out."

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Bird was at Yankee Stadium because he will have stitches taken out of his ankle Monday. He said the original 6-8 week timetable for his return still holds, meaning he could be back playing sometime in May.

Bird has had trouble staying healthy, missing all of the 2016 season with a right shoulder injury and playing just 48 games in a '17 season interrupted by ankle surgery. He said Sunday he believes both issues were related to fouling a ball off his ankle late in '17 Spring Training.

Bird said he knew about the bone spur last year, but that doctors had hoped PRP treatment and rehab would be enough to deal with it. He admitted that he was dealing with it all this spring, even though he insisted to reporters, opposing players and even friends that he felt good.

"The more I was on it, the worse it got," Bird said.

In the final week of Spring Training, he realized he needed to get it taken care of.

"I couldn't stand by the end of [one] game," Bird said.

With all the time Bird has missed, he'll need a Minor League rehab assignment that will be almost a mini Spring Training.

"I'm just excited to see him progressing," manager Aaron Boone said.

Worth noting
Boone expressed optimism Sunday that the Yankees are getting healthier, even as he left both catcher Gary Sanchez and shortstop Didi Gregorius out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Orioles. Ronald Torreyes started at short, and Austin Romine was behind the plate. Boone said both were available to pinch-hit.

Video: BAL@NYY: Sanchez exits in the 14th with an injury

Sanchez hasn't played since leaving Friday's game with what the team described as cramps in his right leg. Gregorius was sore after a home-plate collision Friday, although he was able to play Saturday.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Greg Bird