Now working to resurrect his Major League Baseball career with the Colorado Rockies, Greg Bird still carries with him plenty of lessons he learned as a member of the New York Yankees.
Here are the lessons Greg Bird took with him from his days with the New York Yankees.
A Colorado native, Greg Bird was drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB draft. He made his debut with the Yankees at the age of 22, stepping into the box at Yankee Stadium on August 13, 2015, against the Cleveland Indians. Bird would go on to play 186 games and grab 700 plate appearances in Yankees pinstripes, but battled numerous health issues that have been documented here and never could regain the momentum from his rookie season when he posted a 135 OPS+ in 157 at-bats.
Now in spring training camp with the Rockies and working to make not only the Opening Day roster but the 40-man roster as well, Bird, now 28, looks back on his days with the Yankees as an opportunity to learn the game, both on and off the field.
During Sunday morning’s media session, I asked Bird about some of the Yankees players who had had the biggest impact on him during his days in the Bronx.
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Bird thought for a moment and responded that there were so many lessons to learn and people who had helped him that he wouldn’t get to them all, but there were a couple who stood out to him.
"“Gardy (Brett Gardner) is still someone who I talk to,” Bird said. “For me, Gardy is the epitome of hard work and a baseball player. Taking the opportunities, that’s still one thing he says to me. He always says to take the opportunity and make the most of it. That’s all you can do, right? And that’s always stood out to me.”"
Bird said that Gardner is very selective with his words so, when he speaks, those words matter and Bird has taken them to heart.
Not only Gardner, but Chase Headley was tapped by Bird as well as someone who helped teach him the intricacies of the Major League game at a young age.
"“What veteran guys see is impressive and impressed me early on,” Bird said. “They’re always watching how they go about their business. I feel like I was very lucky to experience that coming up, and learn how to not only be a Major League player but a Major League person as well.”"
Bird also mentioned the evolution of Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia as being impactful to him.
"“Watching CC pitch and learning how to reinvent himself,” Bird said. “There are so many things and there are so many guys really that I’m really, really fortunate to have been around at the highest level and got to really hone in and watch them perform their craft.”"
Now Bird has brought some of those lessons learned to a Rockies organization that features many young players looking to make their own mark. Josh Fuentes is competing along with Bird and C.J. Cron for a spot at first base, while Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon are likely inheriting new infield positions as their primary spots in 2021.
Will Bird make the Opening Day roster? What could his left-handed bat mean to the Rockies in 2021? These are some of the questions we discussed with Thomas Harding of MLB.com in a recent podcast.