By Dan Martin
DETROIT — Greg Bird hasn’t played for the Yankees in nearly three months, but that could finally change on Friday when they return home to face the Mariners.
The first baseman went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday and is slated to play a full nine innings at first on Thursday in another rehab start.
If all goes well — a big “if” for Bird and the Yankees this season — manager Joe Girardi said he would be reevaluated following Thursday’s game.
And Starlin Castro (hamstring) shouldn’t be far behind, meaning that Ronald Torreyes likely will return to a utility role — even after a four-hit performance in Wednesday’s 10-2 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park. Castro, with SWB, finished a suspended game on Wednesday 2-for-5.
Torreyes has helped the Yankees survive Castro’s absence, just as he did earlier in the season, when he filled in for the injured Didi Gregorius.
“[He’s] been aggressive and it’s worked for him,” Girardi said of Torreyes’ approach. “He figured out how to do [play in the majors] last year. He has a pretty simple swing and understands what needs to do to be prepared.”
Torreyes said he’s ready to go back to being a sub, but he’s continuing to impress his teammates — and offset the absence of Castro.
“He’s had I think eight hits in two days and saw five pitches, maybe,” Gregorius said with a laugh. “He’s attacking. That’s all he does.”
As for Bird, the Yankees will welcome his left-handed power bat — so it’s not a surprise they are ready for his return.
Bird has been sidelined since May 1, after a bone bruise he suffered during spring training flared up. Surgery to remove a bone from his right ankle seems to have alleviated the problem.
Whenever Bird gets back, Girardi will have some decisions to make. Though he is loath to announce plans before he is forced to, the manager said Chase Headley would continue to see time in the field.
“You figure things out when they happen,” Girardi said. “That’s my job. Obviously, if everyone stays healthy — and if you’re producing — you’re gonna play. We’re gonna find ways for you to play.”