Greg Bird backed up his manager’s words in Friday night’s blowout against the Syracuse Chiefs.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders manager Al Pedrique told reporters Friday afternoon that he thought the New York Yankees first baseman looked ready to return to the bigs.
Five hours later, Bird collected a pair of hits as the RailRiders’ designated hitter in a 9-1 victory over the Chiefs.
Bird was pinch hit for by Mark Payton in the bottom of the fourth.
“I feel great. It’s been fun playing on this team, so I’ve been enjoying it,” Bird said prior to Friday’s game. “I look for a certain pitch and I try to put a good swing on it. I keep things simple. I try to drive the ball and stick to that. It’s kind of what I’ve always done and it’s worked for me.”
Bird has been red-hot at the plate as of late.
Going 2 for 2 with a runs scored, Bird boosted his average to .423 during his rehab stint, heading into Friday’s tilt. He has two doubles, three home runs, four walks, eight runs scored and six RBI in nine games with the RailRiders.
WFAN Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti reported after Bird was pulled that the first baseman will be with the Yankees on Saturday.
“Bird, he’s been swinging the bat well. I think he’s 100 percent healthy,” Pedrique said. “Very calm. Great, great, great plate discipline. He knows the strike zone real well. So I’m not surprised (he’s getting deep into counts). He’s the type of hitter who’s not afraid to hit with two strikes, he doesn’t change his approach and he hits the ball where it’s pitched. He’s been very impressive since I’ve had him in 2013 with his plate discipline.”
While he didn’t play in the field on Friday, Bird has been happy with his play at first throughout his rehab stint. He hasn’t committed an error in five games during his Major League rehab assignment.
“My work feels good. Generally when my work feels good I feel good in the game,” Bird said. “I feel like I’m moving well. I haven’t done a whole lot in the field, but I had a throw early here that I liked. I got a couple balls (Thursday) so that was good. I feel like I’m playing my position, which is good.”
A chance to clinch
The RailRiders did their job Friday night, beating the Chiefs. But in order to clinch a spot in the International League playoffs, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre needed the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to lose as well.
Trailing to Pawtucket after six frames, the IronPigs scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 4-3 lead, which proved to be the final score.
The RailRiders will now have to wait until Saturday to clinch a playoff spot.
“We know we have a chance to clinch pretty soon,” Pedrique said. “Our goal is to go out and compete and then win games. I guess you have to be lucky too. Sometimes you win games because you’re lucky, but for the most part I feel the chemistry, the heart, what this team is made of has rubbed off on the guys when they come up from A-ball, Double-A.”
Pedrique provided an update on catcher Kyle Higashioka before Friday’s game.
The second-year manager said that the MRI results on Higashioka’s shoulder came back negative. He was placed on the disabled list Aug. 19, just day after coming off of the DL with a back injury that kept him out for more than a month.
“It’s a strained muscle. They’re going to take their time, make sure he’s healthy, but the good thing is the MRI was negative,” Pedrique said.
There’s no timetable for Higashioka’s return.