Bird set to begin rehab assignment with Triple-A

Bird set to begin rehab assignment with Triple-A

NEW YORK -- In the hours immediately following right ankle surgery, Greg Bird defiantly vowed that his season was not over, a promise that he will aim to keep when he begins a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Wednesday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Bird is scheduled to play five innings at first base as the RailRiders host Gwinnett at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa. Bird had surgery on July 18 to remove an excess bone growth from his foot, which the Yankees believe was responsible for the issues that limited him to just 19 games this season.

"Three weeks ago, I was in a boot and on crutches. I'm just really excited to get back to playing," Bird said. "Everything's been going great. It'll be nice to play. It's great just working out and taking BP, but even in the spring, it gets repetitive. You want to play."

Bird said that his goal is to rejoin the Yankees' active roster at some point next week. The Yankees have outlined his schedule through Saturday with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: Bird will DH on Thursday, play seven innings at first base on Friday, then DH again on Saturday.

"I'm ready. I'm right where I need to be and I'm ready to go," Bird said. "It'll be nice to get some at-bats and see live pitching. As simple as it sounds, I'm just excited to play and that's a good thing -- and ready to play."

This will be the second rehab stint of the year for Bird, who was 6-for-60 (.100) and last played in a big league game on May 1. He played six games at Class A Advanced Tampa and six more at Triple-A before being shut down in early July due to continued discomfort.

Given that false start, Yankees manager Joe Girardi seemed to temper his enthusiasm before Tuesday's game against the Mets.

"It's a guy that probably needs to go play, but he has looked really good," Girardi said. "I am excited to see him get going. I know it's BP and I know it's infield work, but he has looked really good. Let's hope his rehab goes fairly quickly."

In Bird's absence, the Yankees have settled on Chase Headley as their regular first baseman, with Garrett Cooper also on the roster as a reserve. Though the Yankees view Bird as their Opening Day first baseman in 2018, Girardi said that he was not ready to make that commitment for the remainder of '17.

"We'll worry about that when we get there," Girardi said.

Starlin Castro (right hamstring) is expected to join Bird on a rehab assignment with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre beginning on Friday.

Cessa to DL
After lasting just 4 1/3 innings in the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Mets on Monday, right-hander Luis Cessa had an MRI that revealed a rib-cage injury. Cessa was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday, with the Yankees recalling left-hander Caleb Smith from Triple-A.

Cessa's turn will come up on Saturday at Boston, and Girardi said that the Yankees hope to have CC Sabathia (right knee) return from the DL and reclaim his rotation spot for that start.

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.