Yankees 1B Greg Bird defended his desire to return to the team this year after a Yankees insider questioned it, per ESPN's Andrew Marchand.
According to Bill Madden of NY Daily News, the unnamed insider said, "You really have to wonder what's with this guy. You'd think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here he'd want to be a part of this. Apparently not."
The quote seems to indicate the insider is suggesting Bird's ankle injury isn't as serious as he has claimed.
However, Bird shot down these claims and said he is doing everything in his power to get back in pinstripes this season.
"I want to play," he said. "I've always wanted to play since I can remember. I love baseball. For me, I'm doing everything I can to come back. I love it and I want to be playing with these guys. I would hope people see it."
Bird may undergo exploratory surgery to determine why he is still feeling pain from an ankle injury that has kept him out since May 1, GM Brian Cashman told reporters on Monday.
The 24-year-old Bird has missed the majority of the season due to the injury, which he suffered when he fouled a ball off his ankle.
"All the diagnostic tests show the bone bruise has healed and he still has pain," Cashman said.
"The complaints are real," Cashman added, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "He can't play, he wants to play and we haven't been able to get him back."
"I don't doubt what I can do," Bird said, according to Hoch. "I'm going to play a long time, so for me, this is just a little bump in a long road."
Manager Joe Girardi said on June 21 he was unsure if Bird would return this season. Bird told reporters he thought he was "very close" to returning at the beginning of June, but still complained of soreness as recently as two weeks ago.
Bird has crushed minor league pitching throughout his career, had a very good call-up in 2015, produced one of the best spring trainings this season that anyone can remember and is named the Yankees starting first baseman. Unfortunately, he gets hurt just before the season begins and at that point he decides he doesn't want to play anymore? Got it. That is brilliant commentary.
Whoever this insider is, he/she should have his/her head examined. The frustration is understandable, but what good does it do to run a player's name through the mud due to frustration? As a motivator? That's simply an insane way to go about it. Further, if the Yankees have decided to move on from Bird, is this how you want to let the rest of the league know how you feel about him?
What's most interesting about this person's stance is that the Yankees have been through this before and not long ago, when Mark Teixeira suffered an ankle injury and it took forever before a fracture was discovered. While this might not end up being the case with Bird, there is a chance that's exactly how it falls out.
Bird's injury has certainly caused problems with the Yankees' lineup and in the field, but to take that to a level that suggests he's sitting back collecting a check for nothing is irresponsible and has the potential to deteriorate the relationship if it hasn't already.