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Bird showing signs of full health

Prospect missed all of 2016 after shoulder surgery
Special to MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- First baseman Greg Bird went 0-for-3 Monday against the Pirates in a 13-1 loss to drop his spring average to .375. However, manager Joe Girardi believes Bird is back to 100 percent after missing the 2016 season with shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

"He's looking great," Girardi said. "I haven't seen anything to believe that he's not healthy, which is good."

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- First baseman Greg Bird went 0-for-3 Monday against the Pirates in a 13-1 loss to drop his spring average to .375. However, manager Joe Girardi believes Bird is back to 100 percent after missing the 2016 season with shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

"He's looking great," Girardi said. "I haven't seen anything to believe that he's not healthy, which is good."

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Bird has been showing power at the plate with three home runs and five RBIs in 16 at bats. Girardi said his smooth swing reminded him a little of John Olerud.

"You watch him swing, it's very relaxed," Girardi said. "He's got a very good eye and he hits to all fields."

Bird hit .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 157 at-bats in 2015. He did most of his damage against right-handers, with a slash line of .270/.341/.574. The numbers dip to .238/.347/.405 against lefties and that's why the Yankees signed Chris Carter to a one-year deal.

Girardi said that Bird, however, will have a chance to show he can hit left-handers. Carter, who hit 41 homers last year to tie for the National League lead, is hitting .200 in spring with a home run in 15 at-bats.

"As I told Chris, his role is going to depend a lot on Bird, in a sense, and how well he's swinging against left-handers," Girardi said. "He's a really good player and Chris had a really good season. These things have a way of ironing out."

Girardi said he was excited to see left-hander CC Sabathia will be making his first start of the Grapefruit League on Tuesday against the Rays. Sabathia has only pitched simulated games and bullpen sessions this spring, but Girardi said he believes Sabathia is ready to go.

"I am excited to see him and see where he's at and how he's physically doing," Girardi said. "I saw his sim game last time and I thought it was really good. You want to see it carry over."

Sabathia was 9-12 with a 3.91 ERA over 30 starts and 179 2/3 innings in 2016. He pitched a two-inning simulated game on Thursday in his final prep for this start.

"I feel ready to go," Sabathia said after that start. "All of my pitches feel good. The changeup, back-door slider and the cutter are all coming around."

Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Yankees on Monday.

New York Yankees, Greg Bird