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Greg Bird

Starters

1B: Greg Bird (LHB)

As far as Greg Bird is concerned, 2017 is more about him picking up where he left off in 2015 than it is about replacing the retired Mark Teixeira at first base in the Bronx.

“I don’t look at it like that,” Bird explained last month to George A. King III of the New York Post. “In a sense, you’re always replacing somebody. But [2015] was a good experience for me. It eased the transition for me. I came into a clubhouse with older guys, and that helped on and off the field.”

Shoulder surgery kept Bird as a spectator in 2016, but the 24-year-old with the made-for-Yankee Stadium swing is convinced he can pick up where he left off in 2015, when he hit .261 with 11 home runs, 31 RBI and a .871 OPS over 41 games.

“I think there will be work that has to be put in to get used to the swing again and get used to everything,” he recently told the New York Daily News‘ Mike Mazzeo, “but I have no doubt in my mind that I can go out and perform this year like I want to perform.”

    

2B: Starlin Castro (RHB)

Starlin Castro delivered a mixed bag in his first season with the Yankees. On one hand, he stayed relatively healthy, provided adequate defense at the keystone and hit a career-high 21 home runs. On the other hand, he struck out more than he ever has, rarely walked and struggled to reach base.

If he’s ever going to turn the corner and get back to playing at the All-Star level he flashed while with the Chicago Cubs, now’s the time for him to do it.

    

SS: Didi Gregorius (LHB)

Coming off a breakout season at the plate that saw him set new career highs in nearly every statistical category, Didi Gregorius isn’t content to rest on his laurels. “I’ll work in the offseason on trying to make my swing a little bit shorter and try to stay consistent with it,” he told MLB.com’s Hoch in late September.

Solid defensively, Gregorius has become the all-around shortstop the Yankees hoped he’d be when they acquired him from Arizona before the 2015 season.

    

3B: Chase Headley (SH)

Chase Headley bounced back from a brutal April to put up a respectable .265/.338/.418 slash line the rest of the season while playing above-average defense at the hot corner. While he’s been the subject of trade speculation this winter, he’s the Yankees’ best option at third base.

    

DH: Matt Holliday (RHB)

The team’s one big addition to the lineup this winter, Matt Holliday should thrive as a full-time designated hitter, limiting the wear and tear on his body that limited him to just 183 games over the past two seasons. 

Perhaps more important than his contributions offensively will be his contributions in the clubhouse. With the departures of McCann, Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira, Holliday will be looked upon to serve as a veteran leader on what has become a fairly young ballclub. 

    

Reserves

1B/OF: Tyler Austin (RHB)

Tyler Austin is going to do what he can to force the Yankees to consider deploying him as the right-handed part of a platoon with Greg Bird at first base, but the more likely scenario will find the 25-year-old playing once or twice a week as a reserve first baseman/corner outfielder and occasional DH. 

   

2B/SS/3B: Ronald Torreyes (RHB) 

The Yankees have a slew of players who could fill this role, including Donovan Solano and Ruben Tejada, who received non-roster invites to camp. But Ronald Torreyes has three things working in his favor: familiarity with the current coaching staff, youth (he’s only 24 years old) and speed. He’s the current leader for the utility role, but things could change.

    

Waiting in the Wings

IF/OF: Rob Refsnyder

Once thought of as the possible long-term replacement for Robinson Cano at second base, Rob Refsnyder has embraced the fact that he’ll have to be versatile if he wants to stay in the Bronx. 

“Every role is pretty filled,” he told NJ Advance Media’s Brendan Kuty last August. “Maybe something will happen in the offseason but for me to make the team I’ve got to be a utility guy. So as long as I’m a Yankee, I’ve got to play a lot of different positions.”

It wouldn’t be shocking if he nudged Torreyes out of the utiliy role in spring training.



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