Somebody recently asked me whether Greg Bird would still be considered an MLB Rookie in 2016.
Knowing the rule, Ann-Margret’s ending version of the Bye Bye Birdie song in the 1963 film version of the Broadway production of the same name, rings true for Greg Bird.
Instead of the Swedish actress’s ode to Conrad Birdie that, “The Army’s got you now,” for Bird, “The Majors got you now.” The first baseman has, in official terms, exceeded the Rookie Limits of Major League Baseball.
By the way, Ann-Margret was a site for sore eyes for a male becoming a teenager back in 1963, when astronaut John Glenn orbited the Earth three times, but let’s get back to the real story.
Here is the Major League Rookie Status Rule:
A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list).
First, Bird exceeded 130 at-bats going away, in fact having registered 178 plate appearances in 46 games with the Yankees in 2015. He walked 19 times, had one sacrifice fly and was hit by a pitch once, leaving 157 official at-bats.
Bird piled up 53 days of big-league service tine last season, but he was only active on the 25-man roster from Aug. 13 until Sept. 1, so he may have gotten a reprieve on that, but the at-bats nailed his Rookie Status like the Army did Conrad Birdie,
“They (the fans) love you, Gregory. Oh yes they do.”
As an aside, Luis Severino also exceeded Rookie Status by pitching 62.1 innings with the Yankees in 2015.
Bird, who batted .261 (41-for-157) with nine doubles, 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in those 46 games, is, to his baseball persona, not worried about any of this.
“I’m just glad I could help the team, which, along with getting better each day, are my main goals in baseball,” he said.
About all this does for Bird is make him arbitration eligible in 2019. He is under Yankees control through 2021, so there is plenty of time to add to his future. Certainly the team has no worries about whether Bird is a classified as a Rookie or not.
Nor will Bird, who will certainly remain a member of the Yankees’ 40-man roster, whether he is, as expected, farmed out to Triple-A Scrawny Wilkes-Barre to start 2016 unless Mark Teixeira comes up with an injury in the final year of his contract, lose any of his MLB service time.
One thing we can’t really consider Bird (or Severino) anymore is a prospect. You won’t see him on any of those lists. He’s a graduate, who has shown he can play in the majors. He passed through Double-A Trenton and Scranton to get there, overcoming about a month off due to a strained shoulder early in 2015.
If he ends up a RailRider to start 2016, Bird won’t sulk a bit. He sees the big picture as well as anyone in the Yankees system. He knows his time is coming soon, and those games he played in August – his debut came on the 13th of that month – as a member of the active 25-man roster, provided experience worth gold.
By the way, Ann-Margret is 74 now. She was 22 when she bid farewell to Conrad Birdie. Make no mistake, Bird bid farewell to his MLB Rookie Status as Conrad Birdie did to his adoring fans.