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Yanks expect to activate Bird off DL today

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- With the Yankees poised to reinstate Greg Bird from the 10-day disabled list prior to today's game against the Angels, manager Aaron Boone said that the organization has not locked in their corresponding move, but he is bracing for a difficult conversation no matter whom it happens to involve.

Returning from right ankle surgery performed in late March, the 25-year-old Bird completed his Minor League rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. He played four games at Triple-A, five at Double-A Trenton and three for Class A Advanced Tampa, batting a combined .205/.367/.436 with three homers and eight RBIs.

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NEW YORK -- With the Yankees poised to reinstate Greg Bird from the 10-day disabled list prior to today's game against the Angels, manager Aaron Boone said that the organization has not locked in their corresponding move, but he is bracing for a difficult conversation no matter whom it happens to involve.

Returning from right ankle surgery performed in late March, the 25-year-old Bird completed his Minor League rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. He played four games at Triple-A, five at Double-A Trenton and three for Class A Advanced Tampa, batting a combined .205/.367/.436 with three homers and eight RBIs.

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"It's something that we've had a lot of conversations about," Boone said. "We are still mulling it over; we just met a little bit ago to work through things and what we think the best way to go is. It leads to a difficult decision, not a simple one, not an obvious one. It's something, frankly, that we're still kind of working through."

In Bird's absence, Tyler Austin and Neil Walker have shared duties at first base, and Boone again lauded Austin's contributions prior to Friday's game. The 26-year-old has eight homers, tied with Gleyber Torres for most among American League rookies, and is tied for third with 14 extra-base hits.

"With Tyler, he's been an impact performer for us," Boone said. "He's a reason why we're sitting here where we are with a strong record. He's one of those guys that's played a major role in that. We expect that to continue throughout this year."

Video: NYY@KC: Austin belts 2 homers for 4 RBIs vs. Royals

With Walker and infielders Miguel Andujar and Ronald Torreyes also viewed as valuable parts of the roster, it is possible that the Yankees could trim a reliever from their 13-man pitching staff to accommodate Bird's return.

Should they opt to go that route, right-hander A.J. Cole represents one such candidate. Cole has pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings over four appearances since being acquired from the Nationals on April 23. Boone said that an upcoming stretch of 14 games in 13 days has been discussed as a factor.

"We try and be as transparent as we can, and explain situations or our decisions to guys as best we can," Boone said. "A lot of times, those are difficult conversations that are the reality and the nature of this business. When you are a part of a really good team with a deep roster, those decisions can be even tougher and those conversations can be even harder."

Back in the bullpen
Right-hander Tommy Kahnle was reinstated from the disabled list prior to Friday's game, rejoining the Yankees after throwing three innings over two Minor League rehab appearances with Class-A Charleston and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Kahnle last appeared for the Yanks on April 12, when he was diagnosed with right shoulder tendinitis following a dip in velocity. Boone said that he expects to again see Kahnle in the mid-to-high 90s with his fastball, based on the two appearances in the Minors.

"He's another dynamic arm," Boone said. "It's another good option. So when you want to have a guy down for a day or try to stay away from someone, the deeper we are down there with really strong options, the better our bullpen is going to be. We feel like Tommy, when he's right, is one of those real impact options for us."

Boone indicated that he would be hesitant to pitch Kahnle on back-to-back days, at least in the early going.

"My first inclination is no," Boone said. "It kind of depends on what the workload is. If he has a clean outing, 1-2-3, not a lot of pitches and then seems like he's bounced back pretty well the next day I wouldn't think that would be an issue."

Play Ball
The Yankees will celebrate the youth-focused Play Ball Weekend on Sunday, participating in a league-wide initiative to engage youth and celebrate baseball and softball participation in communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

A new component of this year's Play Ball Weekend effort is that Major League players, coaches and managers will wear batting practice T-shirts inspired by the classic baseball movie "The Sandlot." Clubs also will have special ballpark giveaways including bat and ball sets, sunglasses, eye black, pitch-grip baseballs, wristbands, drawstring bags, caps and more.

This date in Yankees history
May 25, 2011: Mariano Rivera made his 1,000th career appearance in a 7-3 victory over the Blue Jays, becoming the first pitcher in Major League history to reach that plateau all with one team.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Greg Bird