Slugger could return in September; pitcher to have Tommy John surgery
By Bryan Hoch
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yankees first baseman Greg Bird underwent right ankle surgey in New York on Tuesday, while right-hander Michael Pineda was set for right elbow surgery in Cincinnati.
Bird opted for surgery to address the os trigonum in his right ankle, an excess bone growth which is believed to be the cause of the inflammation that has limited him to just 60 at-bats this year. Pineda is having Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn right ulnar collateral ligament.
There is some hope that Bird may be able to return to the diamond in early September. He issued a statement reinforcing that sentiment following the successful procedure, which was performed by Dr. Martin O'Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
"This morning I underwent a successful procedure to remove the os trigonum from my right ankle," Bird said in the statement. "After trying to play through the injury, I recently sought the opinion of Dr. Martin O'Malley at Hospital for Special Surgery, who provided an accurate diagnosis and performed the required surgery.
"In nearly four months since first injuring my ankle, it had been increasingly frustrating to have only questions and no answers. All this time, I have wanted nothing more than to be out there playing the game I love as a member of the New York Yankees. My season is not over. I plan to do everything in my power to return and help our team win in 2017."
"We expect about a six-week rehab," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the operation. "You're talking about [Bird] doing baseball activity the 1st of September. Is there a chance? Yeah, maybe."
Bird, 24, appeared to be on track for a big season when he batted .451 (23-for-51) with eight homers in 23 Spring Training games, but he batted just .100 (6-for-60) with a homer and three RBIs in 19 regular-season games after fouling a ball off his right ankle in a March 30 exhibition against the Phillies.
A fifth-round selection by the Yankees in the 2011 Draft, Bird has not played in a big league game since May 1. He missed all of the 2016 season while recovering from surgery to repair a right-shoulder labrum tear, and Girardi suggested Bird may gather at-bats in a fall or winter league.
"It's really tough to get on track when you've lost two years," Girardi said. "Hopefully he can get back on track before the end of the season and get some at-bats and be helpful and productive."
Pineda could probably sympathize. The 28-year-old missed all of 2012 while rehabbing from a right shoulder tear, and now is expected to miss the remainder of the '17 season with a flexor muscle strain and a partial tear of his right UCL.
Dr. Timothy Kremchek, the Reds' medical director, will perform the procedure on Pineda on Tuesday in Cincinnati. Pineda saw Kremchek for a second opinion after the tear was initially diagnosed by Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.
Pineda was 8-4 with a 4.39 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 96 1/3 innings across 17 starts this season. He is a free agent after this season, raising the possibility that Pineda has thrown his final pitch as a member of the Yankees.
"In his case, because of the success rate of surgery and his age, he'll be able to return to play, and our industry will see him back on the mound doing what he's capable of doing," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.