Bird to miss entire season due to shoulder injury

First baseman of Yanks' future to have surgery to repair torn labrum

February 1st, 2016

NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, who belted 11 homers in his first taste of big league action last year, will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a right shoulder labrum tear and is expected to miss the entire 2016 season.

The Yankees said that the injury is a reoccurrence of a right shoulder injury sustained in May, when Bird spent approximately a month on the disabled list with Double-A Trenton. He returned to the field after following a rest and rehab program.

General manager Brian Cashman said on Monday that Bird informed the Yankees after the season that the shoulder was again bothering him. At that time, Bird was evaluated by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad as well as Dr. David Altchek, both of whom said that there appeared to be no change in the labrum tear from the early part of the season.

"The expectation and hope was that he would be fine," Cashman said. "Once he started having his baseball activities this winter, especially with ramping up in these most recent weeks, the pain returned."

In their most recent evaluations of Bird, both Ahmad and Altchek recommended surgery. Bird's procedure will be performed by Altchek at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Bird, 23, made his Major League debut last August, and the left-handed hitter batted .261/.343/.529 with 31 RBIs over 46 games, taking over the starting duties at first base after Mark Teixeira was lost for the season to injury.

Yankees' best options for replacing Bird

The Yankees have viewed Bird as their first baseman of the future, but with Teixeira expected to be healthy this spring, the Yankees were planning on ticketing Bird for Triple-A and having him wait there as an insurance policy, considering Teixeira has averaged just 93 games over the last four seasons.

"The expectation was that [Bird] would be at Triple-A in the event we had a problem," Cashman said. "We've lost an important piece that benefited us greatly last year when Tex went down. We're optimistic that in the surgery and rehab, expectations will be that it'll go well and [Bird] will be ready to go in 2017. Obviously we're down a big insurance piece for 2016."

Cashman said that he views Dustin Ackley as the Yankees' backup first baseman, and he would prefer not to experiment by having players like Brian McCann handling first base.

"We'll continue to scour the market for protection at Triple-A," Cashman said. "I would rather try to stay in the arena of guys that have handled the position rather than audition people. The season will take us where it takes us, and we'll have to see how it all plays out."