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Bird, Voit have something to prove in Yankees' first-base battle



TAMPA – One day you are Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge. You are Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres

You are today and tomorrow and, snap, somehow it happens so fast that you are not trying to be yesterday.

Greg Bird came late in the 2015 season and with one precocious at -bat after another seemed to establish himself for long-term residence as the Yankees' first baseman. He was 22 and he says now how much he was looking forward to seeing all the talented guys he played with in the minors.

Instead, they have passed him, and so has Luke Voit, who was not even a Yankee until July of last season. The Luke Voit is ahead of you on the depth chart; one day you are 22 with an unlimited future;

"I've been sitting here and I've been playing the last three seasons and this conversation was about the last three seasons," Bird said Wednesday morning. "But I did not."

In this first-base competition, Bird is the one trying to prove he is not fragile, having missed so much of the past three years with injury. Voit yearns to demonstrate he was no fluke after launching 1

4 homers in 132 late-season Yankees at-bats. It gives a touch of Yankees nostalgia – Nick Johnson versus Shane Spencer: The sweet-swinging lefty first baseman who could not stay on the field against the stocky righty outfielder who arrived late in 1998 as a homer-hitting meteor, never reach those heights again.

Bird and Voit are aware of the comparisons. Bird said: "I'm hoping my story is a little different." While Voit explained: "I do not want to disrespect [Spencer]but I want to make my own name. I want to be Luke Voit. Look, I got it, the guy came up and had an unbelievable end of the season in the postseason and helped them win the World Series, but I do not want to be a fluke. I want to show the world, show New York City and show baseball that I can hit and hit really well in the big leagues. "

Brian Cashman has nominated Voit the favorite in honor of his quick 2018 climb to the middle of the Yankee lineup. "But," Cashman said, "I come from a horse-racing background and I know every race has a favorite and it does not mean race is running that way."

And, in fact, the Yankees fit better if Bird wins. With Didi Gregorius out for a few months, switch-hitting Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner are the lone lefties, unless Bird makes the club. In that scenario, DJ LeMahieu becomes the right who starts against the lefties and the roster has greater flexibility with the plan to take 13 pitchers.

But Aaron Boone and Cashman insist the best man wins – no edges to the lefties. Besides, the Yankees handled righty pitching fine last season and Voit pummeled it (1,015 OPS).

Voit, who is built like a soda machine with arms, might not look the part, but insists he is a good hitter, not just and a burly power guy. The Yankee analytic department, which found the underlying elements in Aaron Hicks and Chad Green to encourage trades, saw the same with Voit; enough, so, in fact, that he believes he was no 2018 fluke.

"My goal is to win the job and become the starting first baseman of the New York Yankees," Voit said. "That's nothing against Greg. I want to be on this team and I want to help them win [championship] No. 28. "

Bird's goals are the same and declares his mind and body in the right place for the clash. He called 2016 when he missed the whole year to shoulder surgery the worst because he had just opened his door in 2015. He was brilliant in spring 2017, fouled a ball off his foot late, never got right, needed surgery, yet still was the hitter in that year's ALCS the Astros were trying to avoid. Last spring, he knew the ankle was still damaged. But he kept telling Yankee officials all was good – that's life when you're trying to dismiss an injury-prone label

Eventually, he needed more surgery to remove a spur. His season was basically ruined. Voit appeared and took his job in 2018, now maybe beyond. This spring, though, those who are evaluating Bird have noticed his legs are back in his swing and there is more muscle in his upper half

"I would honestly take this spring over the last spring any day of the week," Bird said . "I'm healthy. I am going to be healthy and having a normal spring and not being penciled in [as the starter] over being penciled in and not being healthy. "

He tries to prove he is not fragile. Is this Nick Johnson and Shane Spencer 2.0 or two quality first basemen about to make a difficult choice for the Yankees


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