Slumping Yanks call up 'untouchable' prospect Greg Bird

CLEVELAND -- The slumping New York Yankees have called up first baseman Greg Bird, one of the four prospects believed to be considered "untouchable" by the organization, in time for Thursday night's 8-6 win over the last-place Cleveland Indians.

Bird batted seventh in the lineup and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

A 6-3, 220-pound left-handed-hitting first baseman, he was batting .301 with six home runs, 23 RBIs and an .853 OPS since being promoted to Triple-A Scranton on July 4. Previously, he batted .258 with six home runs and 29 RBIs for Double-A Trenton. Bird, 22, also had an impressive spring training with the Yankees, hitting .353 with a 1.127 OPS.

"It's a dream come true," Bird said. "Baseball is all about experience, so just being able to be around these guys, coming into a clubhouse with guys I know and have a relationship with already, is huge.

"My only goal is to help this team win right now," he said. "However I can do that, that's what I'm trying to do here."

Bird is expected to serve as a backup to Mark Teixeira at first base and Alex Rodriguez at DH, a tacit acknowledgment by the Yankees that the two most dangerous hitters in their lineup, who are also two of the oldest on their roster, might be wearing down after 112 games.

"Obviously, this is a performance-driven business, and you have to perform," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The better he performs, the more playing time he'll get."

Bird's parents were in Scranton to watch him play Tuesday night and drove here Wednesday and will be at Progressive Field tonight.

The Yankees, who had been in first place in the AL East for 41 days, fell behind the surging Toronto Blue Jays after Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Indians, their fifth straight defeat. Their offense, which has been among the AL leaders in runs and home runs all season, has been sputtering, scoring just nine runs in the past seven games.

The Yankees remain a half-game behind the Blue Jays, who beat Oakland 4-2 on Thursday.

Teixeira, who leads the team with 30 home runs and 77 RBIs, has just four hits in his last 28 at-bats. Rodriguez, who has not hit a home run since his 40th birthday on July 27, is 6-for-37 (.162) in August.

Along with pitcher Luis Severino, outfielder Aaron Judge and second baseman Rob Refsnyder, Bird was one of the players GM Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner had refused to part with at the trade deadline in exchange for a top-flight starting pitcher.