Bird Will Only Get Better

TAMPA, FL - Coming back from the offseason, no one was more prepared to hit Spring Training than Greg Bird. His plans were delayed by a minor back injury, however, that kept him off the field through April. With his health back on track, Bird has hit the ground running and is keeping the momentum of his strong finish last season going.

"To be completely honest, it is tough," Bird said. "I mean, being out and not being able to go out there with your friends and play with them, was tough."

In the short time since his return to the baseball diamond, Bird has been more driven than ever. Having missed the game only months after his season ended in Charleston last year, a delayed start was disappointing.

"It was so frustrating not being able to be out there, but now that I am back it is just where I want to be and where I need to be. It just clicks when I am out there. I just prepare and let the rest take care of itself."

Manager Al Pedrique has been noticing Bird's focus return full force in the past couple of weeks, as he's prepped with his hitting coach before every game and getting comfortable at the plate. Despite the injury, Pedrique has been impressed with Bird's performance at bat and with his development.

"I love this kid's maturity and discipline at the plate," Pedrique said. "He has a lot of patience. He's trying to be consistent with his stroke and swing.

"He needs a lot of time, obviously because of his injury, but he's been working very hard on staying healthy and feeling good at the plate, and being able to help the team like we know he can."

Prep work is a large part of what Bird has been focusing on for his success at the plate. Along with his hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, he studies his opponents every night before games in order to prepare for at-bats. It is a part of a challenge that his coaches think will excite him at a new level of baseball.

"I'm really excited to have him back," Pilittere said. "It is not only good for me as his hitting coach, it is good for his teammates. I think his teammates are excited to have him back because they all look to him because they know he's a smart hitter, a smart player, and they can learn a lot from him."

For Pedrique, it is that focus and patience that gives Bird the potential to be a great hitter.

"Once he understands what type of hitter he can be and he feels comfortable about the strike zone, obviously that aggressiveness early on in the count will come," Pedrique said. "He's the type of guy that is not afraid to hit with two strikes.

"He looks at a lot of pitches and he takes a strike or two. I think that is a good thing for a young hitter, to be able to have the patience and to understand what the pitcher is trying to do with him."

Moving further in to this season and rising to a new level of baseball for Bird is about being able to execute a plan better than opponents, something he has been concentrating on every game. The defensive game, however, is the next part of Bird's plan to improve his playing in Tampa.

"People always talk about hitting, and hitting is a huge part of baseball, especially playing first," Bird said. "But defensively, I want to be a good first baseman and I can be. I just need to get the reps – and I will – but it is just about getting more consistent there."

From coaching to teammates, everyone is happy to have Bird back out hitting with the rest of the lineup this season. No one is more excited to his the baseball diamond than Bird himself though.

"I think there are areas to improve, as always. As far as how I feel, which is huge coming of an injury, I feel great. I've been hitting the ball well and I think it will only get better," Bird concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"To be completely honest, it is tough,\" Bird said. \"I mean, being out and not being able to go out there with your friends and play with them, was tough.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn the short time since his return to the baseball diamond, Bird has been more driven than ever. Having missed the game only months after his season ended in Charleston last year, a delayed start was disappointing.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was so frustrating not being able to be out there, but now that I am back it is just where I want to be and where I need to be. It just clicks when I am out there. I just prepare and let the rest take care of itself.\"
\r\n
\r\nManager Al Pedrique has been noticing Bird's focus return full force in the past couple of weeks, as he's prepped with his hitting coach before every game and getting comfortable at the plate. Despite the injury, Pedrique has been impressed with Bird's performance at bat and with his development.
\r\n
\r\n\"I love this kid's maturity and discipline at the plate,\" Pedrique said. \"He has a lot of patience. He's trying to be consistent with his stroke and swing.
\r\n
\r\n\"He needs a lot of time, obviously because of his injury, but he's been working very hard on staying healthy and feeling good at the plate, and being able to help the team like we know he can.\"
\r\n
\r\nPrep work is a large part of what Bird has been focusing on for his success at the plate. Along with his hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, he studies his opponents every night before games in order to prepare for at-bats. It is a part of a challenge that his coaches think will excite him at a new level of baseball.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm really excited to have him back,\" Pilittere said. \"It is not only good for me as his hitting coach, it is good for his teammates. I think his teammates are excited to have him back because they all look to him because they know he's a smart hitter, a smart player, and they can learn a lot from him.\"
\r\n
\r\nFor Pedrique, it is that focus and patience that gives Bird the potential to be a great hitter.
\r\n
\r\n\"Once he understands what type of hitter he can be and he feels comfortable about the strike zone, obviously that aggressiveness early on in the count will come,\" Pedrique said. \"He's the type of guy that is not afraid to hit with two strikes.
\r\n
\r\n\"He looks at a lot of pitches and he takes a strike or two. I think that is a good thing for a young hitter, to be able to have the patience and to understand what the pitcher is trying to do with him.\"
\r\n
\r\nMoving further in to this season and rising to a new level of baseball for Bird is about being able to execute a plan better than opponents, something he has been concentrating on every game. The defensive game, however, is the next part of Bird's plan to improve his playing in Tampa.
\r\n
\r\n\"People always talk about hitting, and hitting is a huge part of baseball, especially playing first,\" Bird said. \"But defensively, I want to be a good first baseman and I can be. I just need to get the reps – and I will – but it is just about getting more consistent there.\"
\r\n
\r\nFrom coaching to teammates, everyone is happy to have Bird back out hitting with the rest of the lineup this season. No one is more excited to his the baseball diamond than Bird himself though.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think there are areas to improve, as always. As far as how I feel, which is huge coming of an injury, I feel great. I've been hitting the ball well and I think it will only get better,\" Bird concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

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

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