Greg Bird was considered for several years to be the Yankees' first baseman of the future, a left-handed hitter who would occupy a spot in the middle of the Bombers' lineup long-term.
Injuries and struggles at the plate have thrown off Bird's trajectory, and now at 26 years old he enters spring training without a starting job in his grasp as the first-base gig is 2018 revelation Luke Voit's to lose.
"I love challenges," Bird told reporters Tuesday in Tampa. "He (Voit) obviously came up and was a huge part of our success so that's awesome. I like challenges. It'll be a fun spring for sure."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last month that Voit is the team's 2019 first baseman "unless Bird beats him out." That followed manager Aaron Boone saying in October that Voit would have a "leg up" in spring training.
Voit was acquired at the trade deadline from the Cardinals and forced his way into the lineup. The 27-year-old went off for 14 homers and 33 RBI in 148 regular-season plate appearances for the Yanks, hitting .333 with a .1.095 OPS.
Bird, meanwhile, had a slash line of .199/.286/.386 in 311 plate appearances last season. He missed all of 2016 while recovering from shoulder surgery, and ankle injuries have plagued him the last couple of years.
The former top prospect is hoping to leave his injury woes behind and feels healthy as he tries to wrestle the first-base job back.
"I took some time off after the year and got to where I needed to be," Bird said. "I'm able to work. I've been able to get the work in that I wanted to get in and work on things that I wanted to work on and just get back to a normal place."