Greg Bird will enter the season as the Yankees' starting first baseman, manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Wednesday.
Bird has been absolutely crushing the ball during spring training, batting .439 with six HRs, 11 RBIs, and six doubles in only 41 ABs.
"I don't see anything changing that," Joe Girardi told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post when asked if Bird would be the starting first baseman. "He's been really good, maybe better than what I expected, knowing that he sat out a year and you worry about guy's timing. It hasn't seemed to affect him.''
Bird hit .261 with a .343 OBP and .529 SLG to go along with 11 HRs and 31 RBIs in 46 games for the Yankees during his rookie season in 2015.
After finding success during his first year in the majors, the 24-year old missed the entire 2016 season due to shoulder surgery.
"I'm a better player than I was then,'' Bird said. "I feel better. I do. Physically and mentally. I think rehab, you can go one or go two ways with it. You can get better or you can sulk, and there were days I sulked. It was tough. If you make something positive out of it, it can help you.''
Bird played in the Arizona Fall League during the offseason, while also working on getting stronger.
"It's fun to be back playing. I feel good when I go home and the next day, so that's nice,'' said Bird. "I didn't have that for a long time. This offseason was cool because I wasn't rehabbing.''
Tyler Austin was expected to compete with Bird for the starting job but fractured his left foot in February and is expected to be out until at least the end of March.
The 25-year-old Austin hit .241 with a .300 OBP and .458 SLG with five HR and 12 RBI in 31 games for the Yankees in 2016.
1B/DH/OF Chris Carter, who the Yankees signed during the offseason, is expected to DH occasionally but primarily be used as a bench player.