BALTIMORE -- There may have been no arched eyebrows in the manager's office while Greg Bird limped to the finish of the exhibition schedule, literally and figuratively, but Aaron Boone can now see the difference clearly. So can the Orioles, who watched the first baseman leg out his first career
BALTIMORE -- There may have been no arched eyebrows in the manager's office while Greg Bird limped to the finish of the exhibition schedule, literally and figuratively, but Aaron Boone can now see the difference clearly. So can the Orioles, who watched the first baseman leg out his first career triple in the fifth inning of the Yankees' 4-1 win on Friday at Camden Yards.
Bird gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead with his deep drive to center field that chased Adam Jones back into the wall, allowing Brett Gardner to easily score from second base as Bird charged into third. Bird -- who has lamented his plodding foot speed on more than one occasion -- had six triples in the Minors, including three for Class A Charleston in 2013.
"I didn't even think about it. I just went," Bird said. "That's good in itself. Speed isn't a huge part of my game, but I can definitely tell a difference just moving around; defensively, on the bases, things like that."
Before Friday's game, Boone said that he sees many signs that Bird has improved markedly from the end of Spring Training.
"I feel like it leaps off the screen, which tells me maybe he wasn't quite right in Spring Training," Boone said on Friday. "Even watching him take batting practice, the way he's impacting the ball right now, and then the at-bat quality we've seen in every game from him, it seems like a much better player and a much better hitter in a much better place."
Bird missed the Yankees' first 47 games of the regular season while recovering from surgery that removed a small spur from the outside of his right ankle. Since being activated by the Yankees, Bird produced five hits in his first 21 at-bats, including a double, triple, homer and three RBIs.
"The last week of my rehab assignment was really good. That was really encouraging," Bird said. "There's nothing like playing in the big leagues. You hope to pick it up quick, and it kind of clicked, so that's been nice."
Coming off his strong finish to the 2017 campaign, the 25-year-old Bird had batted .154 (8-for-52) with a homer and four RBIs in 18 Grapefruit League games before seeking accelerated treatment for what was initially diagnosed as inflammation.
"I knew he wasn't getting a lot of results in the spring," Boone said, "but I also felt like, because he controls the zone so well, you chalk some things up to Spring Training. Now seeing it up close every day in batting practice and his work, he seems like a much more impactful guy right now, there's no question."
Rain, rain, go away
The Yankees huddled for about an hour after Thursday's postponement to go over their upcoming pitching. It was eventually decided that Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and Domingo German would start the remaining three games of the Orioles series, with Luis Severino set to pitch the opener of Monday's doubleheader at Detroit.
New York plans to call up a pitcher to start the second game of Monday's twin bill -- Boone said that the decision had not been finalized, but David Hale was stretched out to throw 79 pitches over 6 1/3 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in his most recent start and would be on regular rest for Monday. Carsten Sabathia is scheduled to start on Tuesday at Toronto.
"Because we have the 26th man for those two games, it's best to bring someone who's not from our rotation for that second game of the doubleheader," Boone said. "If we were to get rain the next couple of days and that throws that off, then with the off-day after, that could change things."
Gary Sanchez remained out of New York's lineup on Friday, despite getting a full day off thanks to Thursday's rainout. Boone explained that with Gray starting -- and Austin Romine typically cactching for his starts -- Sanchez was essentially only available as a DH, and those duties went to Giancarlo Stanton. Boone also noted that Sanchez continues to receive treatment on his right calf, which forced him to exit a May 22 game in Texas.
"I've been wanting to try and [rest Sanchez] back to back a couple of days for him just based on what he went through in Texas with the calf," Boone said. "He's been bouncing back well every day. With the DH [on Wednesday] and knowing Sonny was pitching the first game here, I just think there's some benefits in giving him back-to-back off-days for the long haul for him."
Third baseman Miguel Andujar was also on the bench Friday, though Boone said that had more to do with liking the matchup of Neil Walker against Orioles starter Andrew Cashner than the collision Andujar had with the Astros' Yuli Gurriel in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 5-3 Yankees win.
"It's a collision, so you feel the impact, the result of the hit, but I'm ready to play," Andujar said.
This date in Yankees history
June 1, 1992: Derek Jeter is selected sixth overall in the MLB Draft, following future Bombers third-base coach Phil Nevin (Astros), Paul Shuey (Indians), B.J. Wallace (Expos), Jeffrey Hammonds (Orioles) and Chad Mottola (Reds).
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.