BOSTON -- The Yankees have had seven different players start a game at first base this season, and their next option may be Garrett Cooper, who was acquired from the Brewers on Thursday in exchange for left-handed reliever Tyler Webb.Cooper, 26, has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and provides additional
BOSTON -- The Yankees have had seven different players start a game at first base this season, and their next option may be Garrett Cooper, who was acquired from the Brewers on Thursday in exchange for left-handed reliever Tyler Webb.
Cooper, 26, has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and provides additional organizational insurance with Greg Bird struggling to get back into the lineup. Cooper was batting .366/.428/.652 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs for Triple-A Colorado Springs, numbers strong enough to get him picked to play in the Triple-A All-Star Game.
Yankees first basemen currently rank second to last in the Majors in OPS with a .620 mark. Bird started at first base for New York on Opening Day but has been limited to just 60 at-bats by a bone bruise in his right ankle.
Bird was seen by Dr. Martin O'Malley at Hospital for Special Surgery on Monday, the eighth specialist who has evaluated Bird since he fouled a ball off his ankle on March 30. Bird took batting practice with Class-A Staten Island this week and remains hopeful that he can start another Minor League rehabilitation assignment.
In Bird's absence, the majority of the Yankees' at-bats at first base went to Chris Carter, who was designated for assignment twice and has since been released. Ji-Man Choi has homered twice since being called up, but general manager Brian Cashman has indicated that if Bird does not return, he would seek an upgrade at first base prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Cooper was thought of highly by Milwaukee brass, but his progress was blocked by the productive platoon of Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar.
"Garrett did a tremendous job this year of vaulting himself into prospect status," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "Unfortunately for him, we had a situation here where first base is pretty well covered. Our corners in general are pretty well covered over here, so he wasn't able to get that opportunity at the Major League level. He's going to an organization where he's likely to get a little bit more of an opportunity than he would here."
Webb, 26, was selected by the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft during the offseason but was returned to the Yankees before Opening Day. After posting a 3.24 ERA in 33 1/3 innings with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Webb made his Major League debut with the Yankees on June 24. He allowed three earned runs in six innings with New York, striking out five.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.