NEW YORK -- The Yankees could send Greg Bird for exploratory surgery to determine the cause of right ankle pain that has kept him out of the big league lineup for more than two months, general manager Brian Cashman said on Monday.Bird had been taking batting practice with the Yankees'
NEW YORK -- The Yankees could send Greg Bird for exploratory surgery to determine the cause of right ankle pain that has kept him out of the big league lineup for more than two months, general manager Brian Cashman said on Monday.
Bird had been taking batting practice with the Yankees' Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre farm club, but returned to New York after reporting continued discomfort in the ankle. Diagnosed with a bone bruise, Bird received a cortisone injection on June 20, but it has not resolved his situation.
"Obviously, there's something going on that we haven't been able to get our hands on," Cashman said. "Worst-case scenario, you maybe do an exploratory surgery to find out what diagnostic testing doesn't show. All diagnostic testings are negative thus far. All the diagnostic tests showed the bone bruise is healed, yet he still has pain."
"I think that's far away, to be honest with you," Bird said after the Yankees' 6-3 win over the Blue Jays. "It's frustrating, but for me, I don't doubt what I can do. I'm going to play a long time, so for me, this is just a little bump in a long road."
After missing all of last season due to injury, Bird was off to a promising start this spring, hitting eight homers in exhibition play. He fouled a ball off his ankle on March 30 against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., an event which the Yankees believe to be the root of his issues.
Bird batted just .100 (6-for-60) with one homer and three RBIs in 19 regular-season games before being placed on the disabled list May 2.
A Minor League rehabilitation assignment lasted just 12 games before Bird again complained of discomfort, prompting the Yankees to send the 24-year-old to see noted ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., one of seven physicians Bird has seen since the initial injury.
"So far, the complaints are real," Cashman said. "He can't play, he wants to play, and we haven't been able to get him back. That's why we'll send him to more doctors and see if there's any information that can be found. We're doing everything we can. He's trying to share all the information he can, but we're flying blind right now."
In Bird's absence, the Yankees have been giving at-bats to veteran Chris Carter at first base, though only because Christopher Austin is expected to miss at least four weeks with a high-level strain of his right hamstring.
Entering play on Monday, Yankees first basemen had collectively managed a Major League-low .203 batting average and a .667 OPS that ranks 29th among the 30 clubs; only the Angels (.618 OPS) have produced less thump.
Cashman said that if Bird is unable to re-join the club, he will look to improve at first base prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"We have to have better production from that position," Cashman said.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.