Yanks put slumping Bird on DL; Ellsbury out with sore elbow
NEW YORK (AP) — Slumping first baseman Greg Bird was placed on the 10-day disabled list by the New York Yankees on Tuesday because of a bruised right ankle.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury also was out of the lineup against Toronto with an injury to his left elbow. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said an MRI revealed a bruised nerve, and the team will wait a couple of days before making a decision about whether Ellsbury needs to go on the DL.
Bird has been playing with a sore ankle off and on since fouling a ball off his foot during one of the final few games of his outstanding spring training. He is hitting .100 with one home run and three RBIs in 60 at-bats this season.
“It wasn’t getting better. We were doing a lot of different things, trying a lot of different things, and it just never came around,” Bird said. “It just seemed like the more I turned it up, the more it disagreed with me.
“Obviously we have a good team, and I think we have a chance to go really far into the season. So get it right now and be ready to go for the long haul,” he added.
Girardi said Bird has seen several doctors and had a second MRI on Tuesday — the first one was administered following the team’s opening trip last month.
Bird will be shut down for seven to 10 days with no baseball activity. There is no estimated timeframe for his return.
“We’re pretty confident there are no breaks. But bone bruises, they’re tricky,” Girardi said. “They can last months.”
Three of Bird’s six hits this season and two of his RBIs came in one game, on April 16 against St. Louis.
“Watching him yesterday,” Girardi said, “I just didn’t feel like there was a lot of explosion in his lower half. We talked after the game and we felt that we just need to give this some time. A bone bruise can take months and months to heal. Players deal with them all the time. He just felt like his ankle wasn’t working properly. Yesterday was the first day I really, really noticed.
“He’s had his struggles. At times we’ve shut him down. At times he has felt better. But yesterday, that’s the worst that I had seen when it came to using his lower half,” the manager added. “This one just seems to not be healing.”
Chris Carter started at first base Tuesday night, and the Yankees recalled infielder-outfielder Rob Refsnyder from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In addition to Carter, Refsnyder is an option at first base along with catcher Austin Romine and designated hitter Matt Holliday, Girardi said.
New York also brought up lefty reliever Chasen Shreve from its top farm team after optioning right-hander Luis Cessa to Triple-A following Monday night’s loss.
Ellsbury got hurt when he ran face-first into the padded wall to make a terrific catch Monday. Aaron Hicks started in center field Tuesday and hit a two-run homer his first time up in New York’s 11-5 victory.
The 24-year-old Bird missed last season while recovering from right shoulder surgery. He batted .451 (23 for 51) in spring training this year with eight homers and 15 RBIs, cementing his spot in the everyday lineup.
“I feel for the kid because I think this kid’s going to play a very important role on this team and it’s not the start that you want to get off to,” Girardi said. “For me, the way you deal with this as a player, is you get healthy. We’ve got a reset button. We’re going to start over. Don’t look at your numbers. Don’t try to make it up in one day. Just go be who you are.”
Bird batted .261 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 46 games as a Yankees rookie in 2015.
“I tried to get through it the best I could, but it’s frustrating,” Bird said about his sore ankle. “I definitely think I’m better than what I’ve showed. I know I’ve said that. I know what I’m capable of, and I think a lot of people in (the clubhouse) do, too.”
In other injury-related news, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez homered on the first pitch he saw to begin his rehab assignment Tuesday night at Triple-A. He connected against Lehigh Valley right-hander Mark Appel, the top pick in the 2013 amateur draft.
Sanchez has been sidelined since April 8 because of a strained right biceps. He could be activated from the disabled list for this weekend’s series at the Chicago Cubs.