Though overshadowed by the behemoth trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird is an important player in the Yankees' lineup. And both he and GM Brian Cashman are hoping he can stay on the field more this season.
Bird's early career has already been ravaged by injuries, as shoulder surgery saw him miss the entire 2016 season, and he played just 48 big league games last year because of an ankle injury.
Bird comes into Spring Training healthy, and despite his issues the past two seasons, Cashman believes he can keep it that way.
"Since the two injuries were unrelated, we have no reason to anticipate anything else," he told The Post's Dan Martin. "He should be fine."
Cashman's comments may be optimistic, but he obviously has a backup plan in case something goes awry for Bird once again. That backup plan is prospect Tyler Austin, who will be the first guy up to replace Bird. The Yankees tried Chris Carter last season, but he was cut before the All-Star break.
Cashman can still make a move to bring in a free-agent insurance policy as he just did with Brendan Drury. How camp plays out for Austin will tell if Cashman needs a Plan C for Bird.
"He'd obviously be the guy we went to before anyone else," Cashman said. "But we have to see how camp plays out...There was some production when he was healthy, but he's going to have to show us some things down here to prove he's the guy."
Austin didn't have the best season either in 2017 with the injury plaguing his production. He had a fractured left foot during camp last year, and right as he took over for Carter in June, a right hamstring strained ended that quick tenure.
So, his sample size last season wasn't the best for even him to judge.
"It's hard for me to take anything from last year," Austin said. "It was such a small sample size, so it was tough to prove anything -- to myself or to the team...What I do know is I can perform up there."
In 46 plate appearances last year, Austin had nine hits including two doubles and two homers.