PinstripesPlus.com: Let's start with Spring Training. How do you feel camp is going for you so far?
Greg Bird: Great. I was just really excited to get back to playing again and be in the clubhouse. Last camp I was here but I obviously couldn't do much [due to the shoulder injury] but for me being healthy and being back to playing baseball, and doing it again, it's been a lot of fun. We got a great group of guys and just being around them everyday and playing ball again has been a blast.
PinstripesPlus.com: I know you're a level-headed guy. You don't have dramatic ups and downs but tell me what went through your head when you first heard about the severity of the shoulder injury last year, about going to miss an entire season? How tough was it just from a timing standpoint?
Bird: No it was a big blow. It was tough. Physically it was hard just because it is and mentally it was hard because you're away from the game and I've never really been away from the game before. It was a weird combo and jokingly I don't recommend getting it [the injury], It was tough. I had a hard time with it but the whole time I kept telling myself 'you're going to get better because of it' and I feel like I did. Physically I feel great now and mentally I feel better because of it. It's an interesting, unique experience. Like I said, I don't recommend it but if you get something out of it it's going to help you out in a lot of ways.
PinstripesPlus.com: Go back to the Arizona Fall League this offseason. The numbers weren't great there but were you expecting to post numbers? Or were you just looking that as an ability to work on getting your timing back?
Bird: Yeah I hadn't played in a while so just to be playing again was new. It was fun but I needed to figure out what I needed to do each day to get ready and it was a huge help. I think getting that out of the way and getting comfortable for the Spring was what I needed to do to be ready to play a game, and get an idea of what to expect. I knew I needed more time. I think I was nine months out of surgery in the Fall League and coming here [to Spring Training] it's been a total of 13 months. Just getting used to playing everyday and learning what I needed to do [with my shoulder] everyday and then play the next day was really huge for me out there. And just being around some of the younger guys, getting to pass on what I learned from some of the veterans that I could be around, was huge. As far as results go I wasn't looking to dig too deep into it, I just wanted to be playing again and healthy. I did exactly what I needed to do, took the time off in the offseason, and was then ready to go.
PinstripesPlus.com: What did you do this offseason to get ready for the season? Were you down in Tampa working out all offseason or did you take some time off and go home?
Bird: No, no, no, I left Tampa for a while because I spent so much time rehabbing here. After the Fall League I went back home to Colorado for a few months and then came down here in February, just kind of get a change of scenery and a change of pace. I got to spend time with my family and my close friends, and that was great because they were all so supportive through the whole thing. I spent time with them and by the end of January I was ready to go, ready to get back to Tampa.
PinstripesPlus.com: That time off from Tampa and from the game itself, how big was that for you do you think? Were you able to recharge the batteries?
Bird: Yes, 100 percent. I would say about three weeks into the [Arizona] Fall League I accomplished what I really wanted to accomplish out there, like I felt I could do what I needed to do coming into Spring [Training]. After that I just needed time off. I was obviously ecstatic to be playing ball at that time but just the whole year rehabbing -- you're always playing catch-up in rehab -- so I was looking forward to some time off and reset [things] to go on my own pace after that, and kind of get ahead of the eight-ball if you will. I feel like I did that, I got the time off that I needed, and now I'm where I want to be.
PinstripesPlus.com: Go back to when Mark Teixeria announced his retirement -- what went through your head?
Bird: Oh man, Hall of Fame career first of all, and a first-class guy to me and a lot of people. Obviously we were all disappointed to see 'Tex' retire. It's a veteran guy that's been a huge part of our organization and a big part of our success over the last several years but talking to him about it I think he's okay with it. As long as somebody is okay with it and they're ready to do it you respect that decision. It sucks because it's somebody I enjoyed being around but he had such a huge career, he's got to do whatever is best for him. It'll be weird not having him around but I've kept in touch with him and I'll continue to do so. I'm sure he's somebody I'm going to lean on in the years to come.
PinstripesPlus.com: I guess a better way of asking the question is -- were you at all nervous, did you feel any added pressure of now having to be the main guy, when he announced his retirement? Mentally what did that announcement mean to you?
Bird: I learned early on coming up in this organization and specifically when I got called up to the big leagues that I have a job to do and I have to be the best that I can be, and the rest is out of my hands because you never know when it's going to happen. Last summer hearing that news I want to say it didn't really change my approach or anything because I have to take care of my job and do my job, and be the best player I can be to help the team. The other stuff isn't even worth worrying about and I just worry about what I need to do, what I need to take care of, and let the rest take care of itself.
PinstripesPlus.com: How excited is it knowing that going into this season you're one of the guys that the team is going to be leaning on?
Bird: It's great. We have a great group. There's still a lot of good veterans in that clubhouse and like I said, just to be part of the team again is very exciting for me and to be healthy again, and to feel good doing it. I'm trying to get better everyday, make the team better everyday however I can, and enjoy it...bring some fun to the ball park with myself, try and keep it loose. Business has to be taken care of and everybody understands that but we've got a great group and we want to keep it loose, have a good time, and win games. That's plain and simple, and I think everyone is on board with that and knows a lot of work needs to be done but in the meantime enjoy what we've got.
PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned the great group and how there are still a number of veterans but it's still a very, very young group. Gary [Sanchez] is there, Aaron [Judge] is there, Luis [Severino] is there, etc, etc. There's now this infusion of youth that I've kind of been waiting on for a while. How exciting is it to be part of this younger youth movement?
Bird: I mean you've been covering us since we were babies. It's exciting. It's cool coming up with guys and seeing those guys have success at the Major League level. Last summer, it was disappointing because I wasn't able to be there [playing] with them but it was so cool to all of those guys get called up and get their chance, and run with it, and do good things, and do what we all expected them to do really. It's awesome. It's fun to be a part of. We've got a great group. The veterans they brought in are awesome, the veterans we have are awesome, and it's been a good camp so far. I think we're going to keep building on it too. Just being a part of it all is extremely fun.
PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned the kids doing what you all expected them to do. I think people are finally starting to realize just how good some of the younger players are and how good the even younger guys coming up behind you guys are -- [Glebyer] Torres, [Chance] Adams, etc, etc -- how exciting is it to not only be a part of that youth movement but really the beginning of the youth movement for the Yankees? There are more guys coming up behind you all.
Bird: It's awesome. It's a credit to our scouting department, our player development -- there's a lot of people behind the scenes that put in a lot of work to get us where we are and I personally don't think they get enough credit. Hats off to them, scouting and drafting good players, and then passing them off to player development who turn us all into better, well-rounded players. There's such an attention to detail on the minor league side and I think that carries over. I think that's why you're seeing it now at the big league level and why [the younger] guys are having the kind of success they are.
PinstripesPlus.com: How excited are you for this upcoming season?
Bird: Extremely. I think we're going to surprise people. I think we're going to have a good team. It's a good group. It seems the chemistry is good. It's still early but it's going to be a fun year for sure.