2:22pm: During an October check-up on Bird’s shoulder, two different doctors recommended against surgery, tweets Chad Jennings of the Journal News. However, the injury flared up in the past 10 days or so, he adds.
1:38pm: Though the season hasn’t even started, the Yankees have already been bitten by the injury bug in notable fashion, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that top prospect Greg Bird will miss the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery (links to Twitter). Bird will undergo the procedure tomorrow for what has been diagnosed as a torn labrum, per Sherman. The Yankees have since confirmed Sherman’s report, announcing that Bird suffered a recurrence of a shoulder injury that he initially sustained in May of 2015 (although, clearly, he did not damage the shoulder to this extent the first time he suffered the injury).
While Bird didn’t necessarily have a clear path to at-bats on the Opening Day roster, he figured to serve, at the very least, as a highly valuable depth piece and perhaps the first line of defense in the event of an injury to either Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez. Teixeira, in particular, was prone to injuries in 2015, which is the reason that Bird was even called upon to make what turned out to be an impressive rookie season. In 178 plate appearances, Bird batted .261/.343/.529 with 11 home runs.
Some might speculate that this makes the Yankees more likely to add a left-handed-hitting first base/DH option, and while that may make sense on a minor league deal, it’s tough to see the team now fitting an additional bat onto its 25-man roster when Bird wasn’t even expected to open the season there. In the event of an injury to Rodriguez, the team could simply move Carlos Beltran to DH and use Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and the newly acquired Aaron Hicks in the outfield as well.