New York Yankees infielder Tyler Austin is ready to go and hold down the first-base fort in the wake of the Greg Bird injury.
“I’m ready for whatever the situation is,” Austin said after the Yankees’ 9-3 split-squad win over the Braves at Champion Stadium on Saturday.
This has been a rough week for New York Yankees fans. We saw Greg Bird go down last year after a monster spring with an almost undiagnosable foot injury. We saw him return late in the season and become the impact player that led to a deep playoff run, most notably hitting a huge home run off of the best reliever in the game. And now, we’ve seen him go down again with the same foot injury he suffered last year on the same exact day no less.
Losing Bird is a huge blow to fan morale coming into the last week of Spring Training and leaves a big hole in the middle of the lineup.
Luckily for Yankees fans, we have more than enough talent to hold down the first base spot while Bird recovers, Tyler Austin being a huge part of that equation.
He’s a strong right-handed hitter that loves to send the ball to right field which is perfect for Yankee Stadium. He’s a natural first baseman and plays solid defense. He’ll likely be platooning at first with Neil Walker and in a pinch he could be used in the corner outfield spots.
The interesting thing is that before the Walker signing, many thought coming into Spring Training that Austin was a lock for the backup first base job. While this clearly isn’t the way he wanted to make the team, he’s ready for another shot at the big league level.
With consistent at-bats, we could see him being a fairly productive replacement for Bird. It’s also beneficial to Austin that the lineup from top to bottom is so strong that he really doesn’t need to produce at a high level offensively for the team to win games. If he can tread water at the plate and provide solid defense in the field, the Yankees are going to be just fine.
Unfortunately, if Bird’s rehab timeline keeps extending like it did last year, the team may have to start looking for a more permanent fix at first base. As talented as Tyler Austin is, he may not quite be ready to be an everyday player. As long as the Bird injury doesn’t linger though, a rotation of Austin, Walker, and Austin Romine will be enough to adequately hold down the first base spot.
While the Bird injury hits Yankee fans pretty hard, we’re lucky that Brian Cashman has put together such a deep and versatile organization. Problems like these are much easier to handle when you have a plethora of major league caliber talent like Tyler Austin just waiting for a shot to prove themselves. Let’s just be glad that the next time the New York Yankees take the field, it’ll finally be Opening Day.