TAMPA, Fla. -- As Spring Training comes closer to wrapping up, Greg Bird will be hoping his hot bat will be migrating with him to the regular season.
The 24-year-old Aurora, Colo., native has been on a tear this spring, hitting .444, with his seventh home run of the spring coming against Toronto's Mat Latos on Saturday in New York's 6-5 win. No Yankee had hit more than six Spring Training home runs in the past 11 years.
Sending balls flying over the fence is not all that Bird is doing. The first baseman also has seven doubles and a triple; 15 of the 20 hits Bird has had this spring have been for extra bases. He also has eight walks.
"I think he can be really, really productive for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I'm going by what our Minor League people have said about him, by what we saw in 2015, the way he's hitting the ball now -- I think he can be a middle-of-the-order hitter for us."
So what are realistic expectations for 2017? Can Bird hit 30 home runs?
"I don't like to put a number on it," Girardi said. "Sometimes that's a limitation."
The sight of success is a welcome one for Bird, as he missed all of the 2016 regular season due to a tear of the right shoulder labrum and was limited to just 17 Arizona Fall League games. In 2015, Bird made his Major League debut with New York, and hit .261 with 11 long balls in 46 games to go along with 31 RBIs.
Hard work, patience and a stellar spring was rewarded when Bird was named the Yankees' Opening Day starter at first base over Chris Carter on Wednesday. For good measure, Bird went on to sock a pair of home runs that afternoon, putting any doubt about the decision to rest.