Greg Bird sent a little message to Luke Voit during Wednesday's matchup against the Tigers: the battle at first base is just getting started.
Voit started his Spring Training on the right foot after mashing a three-run jack on Sunday against the Rays in a 2-for-3 performance with four RBI. But Bird has been just as good to kickstart his 2019 season, as he is now 3-for-5 with three RBI that were tallied on by his own three-run homer today.
Bird has looked different to the Yankees this spring, especially in the box. Manager Aaron Boone is hearing a better pop off the bat, and when he heard that crack when Bird connected to left-center today, he knew it was gone before the word go.
"It's a continuation of what I have seen since I got down here," Boone told the Daily News' Kristie Ackert. "The different sound off the bat, the different way he is impacting the ball. He hits that ball to left today and it's like a righty hit it. Off the bat, it's 'That's a homer.'"
After posting a paltry .199/.286/.386 slash line with 11 homers and 38 RBI over 82 games, Bird wasn't in the right frame of mind when the season ended. To prepare for this year, though, Bird did whatever it took to get ready including buying his own boat and spending two isolated weeks in Florida.
So far, it seems to be paying out.
"He looks good," Boone said. "I know mentally he's in a really good place. He's had a lot of good at-bats."
For the past couple seasons, Bird has been the favorite to win the Yankees' first base job when camp breaks. However, he finds himself as the underdog this time around due to Voit's two-month surge last season that continued through the postseason. And, as SNY's Andy Martino put it on "Baseball Night in New York" on Wednesday, the Yankees are giving Voit the upper hand as he earned his spot in 2018.
But, with performance like this one, Bird isn't going to make it a cake walk for Voit.
"Yeah, ideally that's where I'd like to be with my swing," Bird said about the homer. "So that was nice. That was really nice."
While Bird trotted around the bases, Voit had a quiet day going 0-for-1 with a walk. However, he did a few nice plays with the glove that saw the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder doing a near full split to pick a double-play ball out of the dirt.
Voit's bat isn't the question, but rather how reliable he can be in the field. Plays like these is proof he can be that all-around player for the Yankees.
"That's what I want to do," Voit said. "I want to pick up my guys. I still have a ways to go, but that's what I have been working on the last three weeks and kind of all the offseason."
There is much more baseball to play to determine who will leave Tampa getting the nod from Boone at first, but if this production continues from both players, it will be a tough call for the skipper to make.