Bird feeling better, sits against lefty

Bird feeling better, sits against lefty

NEW YORK -- Greg Bird had a great view from the bench for his first Yankee Stadium home opener, cheering on Michael Pineda in Monday's 8-1 Yankees victory over the Rays, but the first baseman can't wait to get back between the white lines.

"It was a lot of fun watching it, but obviously I wanted to be playing," Bird said. "It was a great atmosphere. The fans seemed like they were into it, and [it was] a great game by Mike. I feel like we got off to a good start there. I feel like people are excited, so that's exciting for us to kind of build off that now."

Bird has been nursing a bruised right ankle and a bout with food poisoning or the flu. The 24-year-old was not in the Yankees' lineup for a fourth consecutive game on Wednesday, with Chris Carter starting again at first base, but manager Joe Girardi said that was more because the Rays started left-hander Blake Snell.

"He's definitely much better today, but Snell is really tough on left-handers," Girardi said of Bird. "I felt like I'd give him one more day. His ankle was still pretty sore on Monday as well. He's definitely available for me today. And he feels physically better, too."

Bird is off to a 1-for-16 start (.063) and has been receiving treatment on the ankle, which he injured on a foul ball in a March 30 exhibition against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

"I think it's just going to take time, but I feel better. We'll see," Bird said. "I'll put the cleats on and see how it goes. It's like a weird thing where certain things bug it. Walking around, even running, didn't really bother it. Just certain angles and positions were bothering it."

Bombers bits

• Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius (right shoulder strain) has resumed throwing, taking ground balls and swinging the bat while working out at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla. Gregorius is expected to rejoin the big league club in early May.

• The Yankees designated right-hander Johnny Barbato for assignment in order to create room for left-hander Jordan Montgomery on the 40-man roster. Barbato, 24, made New York's Opening Day roster last year as a reliever. He was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in one start at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.