NEW YORK -- Shortly after the Yankees won on Friday night, 2-1, in walk-off fashion, first baseman Christopher Austin received a call saying the Yankees were bringing him up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The team designated Chris Carter for assignment.Austin missed all of Spring Training with a fractured left foot. But
NEW YORK -- Shortly after the Yankees won on Friday night, 2-1, in walk-off fashion, first baseman Christopher Austin received a call saying the Yankees were bringing him up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The team designated Chris Carter for assignment.
Austin missed all of Spring Training with a fractured left foot. But with his recent string of success in the Minors and the Yankees' struggles at first base for much of the season, manager Joe Girardi felt it was the right time to call up the 25-year-old.
"We just felt like it was time," Girardi said. "Tyler had started to swing the bat well, and it was time to give him an opportunity."
Austin was batting .300/.366/.560 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 27 games at Triple-A before his promotion. He was in the midst of a hot streak, going 6-for-15 (.400) with three home runs over his last four games.
Still, it was a long road back from injury for the Yankees' No. 14-rated prospect. He spent a month and a half to two months riding an exercise scooter before he could start running -- and his running progression, he said, was "really slow."
Upon returning to the field, it took Austin a while to get going. He said he felt great defensively, but getting his timing back at the plate took a little while.
Earlier this week, even general manager Brian Cashman said he still thought Carter was the team's best option at first base -- despite his disappointing performance at the dish.
It wasn't until the last four-game stretch that Austin really got going, with his homers coming in three straight games. He also went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in his most recent contest.
"Going through the injury right before Spring Training started this year was a tough pill to swallow," Austin said. "It's just one more thing I had to overcome, and I'm happy to be back."
Girardi confirmed Austin is the Yankees' starting first baseman, though that could change when Greg Bird comes back from a right ankle injury, which has sidelined him since the beginning of May. Bird has yet to begin running again after suffering a setback during his Minor League rehabilitation assignment.
Headley says he's progressing
Third baseman Chase Headley has missed the last two games with back spasms, and he was out of the lineup again on Saturday.
However, he is feeling a lot better. Without consulting Girardi or the Yankees' training staff, he said, he could be back in the lineup as soon as Sunday.
"I'm sure I'll hit in the cage a bit, move around [on Saturday]," Headley told MLB.com. "I would assume if I feel good ... [and] I can come out of all that stuff, and feel good ... when I wake up, then it'll be [Sunday], would be my guess."
Before his back injury, Headley was riding a 15-game on-base streak in which he was batting .313/.444/.417 with eight RBIs.
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.