Bird grinding as Yankees look to spark his bat

First baseman encouraged by recent barrels during slump

August 29th, 2018

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have been talking to Greg Bird about building positive momentum through his work, even as his search for consistent results has not yielded much to discuss statistically. Despite the sagging batting average, manager Aaron Boone believes that Bird is closer than you might think.

"The conversation is ongoing, and it's all around trying to put him in the best place to get it rolling, because when he's good, it's impactful," Boone said on Wednesday.

Effectively displaced from his starting position at first base this past week by , Bird smashed three balls hard in Tuesday's 5-4 win over the White Sox but came away with four hitless at-bats. He has two hits in his last 35 at-bats and is batting .114 (9-for-79) in August.

"I found some barrels, so that's a good thing," Bird said. "For sure, [they were] quality at-bats. You've just got to keep going. I keep saying it, but keep going, keep grinding. Just the name of the game."

A productive force for the Yankees last September and October, Bird lost most of the season's first two months to right ankle surgery. He has enjoyed some highlights, including an Aug. 19 grand slam against the Blue Jays, but has yet to catch the extended hot streak that the Yankees have been waiting for.

"If we can get him going in the right direction, I'm positive he can help us down the stretch and hopefully if we get into the playoffs," Boone said.

Batter up

Didi Gregorius (left heel contusion) resumed hitting on the field prior to Wednesday's game as he aims to return to the Yankees' lineup. Gregorius sustained the injury in an Aug. 19 collision at first base.

He also ran on the field and took ground balls, and Boone said it is not certain if Gregorius will need to play in a Minor League rehab game before being activated.

"I'll be hitting off the machine probably some of these days, and then try to get some flips, try to find my timing," Gregorius said. "If they send me to get some rehab games, I'll go get some rehab games. If not, then I'll start over here."

G's grind

has been managing a tender left hamstring for the better part of the month, though as he continues to search for career homer No. 300, liberal use of the designated-hitter spot has helped keep the slugger's bat in the lineup.

"It is something that I'm mindful of, that I talk to him a lot about," Boone said. "It's just been tough lately just with our situation and how beat up we are, and how productive he's been, even though he's struggled a little bit the last few games. He's been one of those guys that's really hard to get out of there, especially when I can roll him out in a DH form where you don't feel like you're beating him down so much."

Since the Yankees' early August series in Boston, after which the hamstring was revealed to have been an issue, Stanton entered play on Wednesday having hit .259/.382/.565 with five doubles, seven homers and 15 RBIs in 22 games. Wednesday marked his seventh start in right field over that span.

"I think he's done a great job of managing it, and it's a conversation he and I have kind of before and after every [game], just to see where he's at as I start to put the lineup together," Boone said.

Big Al met Giancarlo at Yankee Stadium

City Winery comes to Yankee Stadium

The Yankees announced on Wednesday that they have partnered with City Winery to create Yankee Stadium's first wine bar -- the "City Winery Wine Bar" -- which is now open to all fans 21 and older on the Field Level in Section 106 during all home games for the Yankees and New York City FC.

This date in Yankees history

Aug. 29, 1972: Bobby Murcer became the ninth Yankee to hit for the cycle, going 4-for-5 in the Bombers' 7-6, 11-inning win over the Rangers in the first game of a doubleheader. Murcer achieved the cycle with a ninth-inning solo homer that tied the game.