Bird Focusing On Defense First

Fifth round pick Greg Bird is known more for his offensive prowess and long-term batting potential, but he says it is his defensive game behind the plate that has grabbed all of his attention this Instructional League season.

"It went really well, I really enjoyed it," Bird said of Instructs in Tampa. "My catching has come along really far I think.

"What was nice was having a coach who is just solely the catching coach. I've never had that before in the past. I've never had catching instruction and good catching instruction at that.

"I really felt like that really improved my game a lot. I really enjoyed that part of that. I thought Instructs was a blast to be honest."

With the likes of Gary Sanchez and Isaias Tejeda in camp as well as Addison Maruszak still transitioning to catcher, Bird had to split playing time with a few different folks.

"The thing about Instructs is you're there to work on your objectives and to practice them," he said. "What I figured out real quickly is your main focus is practice.

"The games are just to carry over what you're practicing but really your focus is on practice. The playing time didn't bother me at all. I felt like I got in there enough and got to work on the stuff I was working on."

A lot of players with his offensive skillset and amateur track history would enter a new organization with a bit of lead-dog attitude, especially one who had signed for the largest bonus of his organization's draft class. Not so with Bird though; he is all student at this point.

"The thing about catching is there so much more that goes on behind the scenes," Bird said. "There's so much to catching. I think the biggest thing I learned is everything is so detailed and you have to take every part of catching seriously because it is really important.

"They were telling me everything and I was just taking in everything. I just tried to take in as much as I could; receiving, footwork, exchange, blocking, setup, being quiet, being soft with your hands.

"That's what they told me when I got there – ‘you haven't been here that long so we don't have any set objectives for you. We just want you take in everything and soak it up like a sponge'. That's what I tried to do."

Now that the initial general indoctrination phase is over, the Yankees are planning on getting a bit more specific catching-wise with Bird during Dominican Instructs over the next two weeks.

"As it went on they got to know me more so we got to set up some set objectives. I have some [objectives] for the DR," he said. "We really started focusing in on some [finer] aspects of it towards the end; blocking was a big one, the footwork, throws to second.

"We started talking a little bit more about receiving. I started getting comfortable with receiving. I started working on a new stance and we're still working on some little stuff with that. It will be nice to get back into games and call some games."

If it sounds as if he's more excited about catching than hitting at this point, it's because he is.

"I enjoy it," he said. "I kind of got away from it this past year in high school. I used to love catching but I kind of got away from it. It took me a little bit to get back into it.

"There's so much more to it than all of the other positions and it's really interesting to me. It keeps you sharp. Not only on defense, I think it helps me as a hitter too. I really enjoy it. It's an art form."

Knowing it will be there in the long-run, he isn't even worried about his bat for the time being.

"Instructs felt like that in a sense," he added. "For me my goal was to become a better catcher. It was catch, catch, catch, catch, catch, and work on catching and work on a catching. Hitting came after that for a little bit. Sometimes you're worn out hitting from catching so much.

"I need to work on my defense and the hitting will come later. I know I can hit still, it's going to happen. Defense is a big focus right now."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It went really well, I really enjoyed it,\" Bird said of Instructs in Tampa. \"My catching has come along really far I think.
\r\n
\r\n\"What was nice was having a coach who is just solely the catching coach. I've never had that before in the past. I've never had catching instruction and good catching instruction at that.
\r\n
\r\n\"I really felt like that really improved my game a lot. I really enjoyed that part of that. I thought Instructs was a blast to be honest.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the likes of Gary Sanchez and Isaias Tejeda in camp as well as Addison Maruszak still transitioning to catcher, Bird had to split playing time with a few different folks.
\r\n
\r\n\"The thing about Instructs is you're there to work on your objectives and to practice them,\" he said. \"What I figured out real quickly is your main focus is practice.
\r\n
\r\n\"The games are just to carry over what you're practicing but really your focus is on practice. The playing time didn't bother me at all. I felt like I got in there enough and got to work on the stuff I was working on.\"
\r\n
\r\nA lot of players with his offensive skillset and amateur track history would enter a new organization with a bit of lead-dog attitude, especially one who had signed for the largest bonus of his organization's draft class. Not so with Bird though; he is all student at this point.
\r\n
\r\n\"The thing about catching is there so much more that goes on behind the scenes,\" Bird said. \"There's so much to catching. I think the biggest thing I learned is everything is so detailed and you have to take every part of catching seriously because it is really important.
\r\n
\r\n\"They were telling me everything and I was just taking in everything. I just tried to take in as much as I could; receiving, footwork, exchange, blocking, setup, being quiet, being soft with your hands.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's what they told me when I got there – ‘you haven't been here that long so we don't have any set objectives for you. We just want you take in everything and soak it up like a sponge'. That's what I tried to do.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow that the initial general indoctrination phase is over, the Yankees are planning on getting a bit more specific catching-wise with Bird during Dominican Instructs over the next two weeks.
\r\n
\r\n\"As it went on they got to know me more so we got to set up some set objectives. I have some [objectives] for the DR,\" he said. \"We really started focusing in on some [finer] aspects of it towards the end; blocking was a big one, the footwork, throws to second.
\r\n
\r\n\"We started talking a little bit more about receiving. I started getting comfortable with receiving. I started working on a new stance and we're still working on some little stuff with that. It will be nice to get back into games and call some games.\"
\r\n
\r\nIf it sounds as if he's more excited about catching than hitting at this point, it's because he is.
\r\n
\r\n\"I enjoy it,\" he said. \"I kind of got away from it this past year in high school. I used to love catching but I kind of got away from it. It took me a little bit to get back into it.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's so much more to it than all of the other positions and it's really interesting to me. It keeps you sharp. Not only on defense, I think it helps me as a hitter too. I really enjoy it. It's an art form.\"
\r\n
\r\nKnowing it will be there in the long-run, he isn't even worried about his bat for the time being.
\r\n
\r\n\"Instructs felt like that in a sense,\" he added. \"For me my goal was to become a better catcher. It was catch, catch, catch, catch, catch, and work on catching and work on a catching. Hitting came after that for a little bit. Sometimes you're worn out hitting from catching so much.
\r\n
\r\n\"I need to work on my defense and the hitting will come later. I know I can hit still, it's going to happen. Defense is a big focus right now.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

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