The New York Yankees are in the middle of the playoff hunt and Greg Bird is set to return…but what will his role be when he gets back?
Honestly, I never thought we would even be questioning whether Greg Bird should be the starting first baseman once he returns to the New York Yankees. Yet here we are, pondering over what Bird’s role will be.
Bird has been pegged as a future star at the position. The Yankees were lacking at the first base, trying out varying players such as Chris Carter and Ji-Man Choi, amongst others, while awaiting news on the ailing-yet-budding talent.
None of those options panned out — that is, until Joe Girardi made a move that was highly suspect, yet has worked out incredibly for the Yankees.
By filling in veteran Chase Headley at first base, the Yankees started getting the production they expected all season long. The problem is, once Bird returns, will they discredit everything Headley has done at first base in favor or a player who has yet to prove himself this season?
See? It’s not so easy. The fans want to see Bird fly again at first but Headley, despite the learning curve, has settled into that role on his own.
Funny how things can change just over the course of a few months.
The Yankees found a way to move on without Bird. And with him on his way back, are they just expected to push aside everyone else who earned their spot just to give Bird his spot back?
Bird batted an even .100 in 19 games with the Yankees before succumbing to injury. Of course, the Yankees have seen what he’s capable of in the past. But it would be unfair to just assume he could pick up the slack by booting someone else from the lineup.
Bird has been labeled as the Yankees first baseman for a long time now. But with the way Headley has been performing since making the switch, it’s hard to take him out of the lineup.
In 16 games at first base, Headley has posted a .345/.403/.509 slash line while impressing on the field. He has given the team stability at the first base position when Bird was anything but consistent.
So will he be put right back in the lineup? He shouldn’t be. While he has been and will be the Yankees first baseman of the future, inserting him right back into that role doesn’t make any sense right now.
Headley is helping the team in a major way. They solved that problem.
An injury set Bird back but he’ll be coming back in the midst of a playoff race. That is not the time to plug in a first baseman who has yet to prove he can handle the pressure this season.
So what will Bird’s role be? He shouldn’t be an automatic starter but he could serve as a pinch-hitter and late-inning defensive replacement. He won’t get as much time on the field until he can prove that he deserves to be there.
It will be so tempting to plug Bird into the starting lineup but the Yankees need to fight that urge. The truth of the matter is that while Bird has the makings to be an everyday first baseman, it can’t be right away — especially if the Yankees want to keep Headley on the torrid pace he’s on.
Bird can make a run for that lineup spot but he has to prove himself first. If he can perform better than Headley, the spot is his. However, the position can’t just be given.
We’re ecstatic to have Greg Bird back with the Yankees just because of the hype surrounding him. However, the hype means nothing if Bird can’t produce in the most pivotal part of the season.
Let him earn his spot back. And if he doesn’t, at least he’ll have another role on the team until he can reclaim his spot next season.