|Bird, Trout on display when Yankees, Angels tangle|
NEW YORK -- The easy decision for New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone will be activating Greg Bird and figuring out where to pencil the left-handed hitting first baseman into the lineup.
The difficult call could be determining who exits the 25-man roster to make room for Bird.
Boone will make the decision Saturday when Bird is expected to be activated from the disabled list and be slotted into the lineup in the second contest of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium.
Bird will be returning from right ankle surgery and it will be the second straight season he is starting a season late. Last season, Bird did not make his debut until Aug. 26 because of right foot surgery.
In parts of two seasons, Bird is a .227 hitter in 94 games. He batted .261 in 46 games in 2015 and hit .190 in 48 games last season while also hitting three homers in the postseason.
Bird is returning after 12 rehab games on three levels.
"I think he's good to go," Boone said. "The reports have been really good. The at-bats have been good. It's still the start of the major league season but we feel like physically, timing wise, all those things he's in a pretty good place right now to be starting the season."
In Bird's absence, Tyler Austin and Neil Walker have split time at first base.
Austin played there Friday night when the Yankees opened the series with a 2-1 win. Walker is hitting .220 but .326 in his last 13 games.
"I think with Tyler, I think he's been an impact performer us," Boone said. "He's a reason why we're sitting where we are with a strong record. He's one of those guys that's played a major role in that. We expect that to continue throughout this year."
One player Bird will get acquainted with is rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres, whose tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh off Jim Johnson gave the Yankees their 23rd win 29 games. Torres (21 years, 163 days) is the youngest player in the American League to homer in four straight games, according to STATS Inc.
"He's been terrific," Boone said of Torres, who is batting .333 with nine homers and 24 RBIs in 28 games since joining the Yankees on April 22.
Regardless of who is on the Yankees, the Angels will try to rebound from a quiet night after scoring 13 runs in their previous two games at Toronto.
Mike Trout homered Friday and despite hitting .171 in his last 15 games, he is one RBI shy of becoming the seventh Angel to reach 600 RBIs with the team.
Rookie Shohei Ohtani, who will not pitch Sunday against Masahiro Tanaka, heard boos before each plate appearance in his first game at Yankee Stadium. He was 0-for-3 with a walk, though he nearly slugged a go-ahead two-homer off Aroldis Chapman in the eighth.
"The atmosphere was really good, but unfortunately we got the loss today," Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Ohtani is hitting .309 and will likely hit fifth where he has batted 12 times, though he has started in five other lineup spots this season.
"I think he's in a great spot to bat fifth," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before Friday's game. There's no doubt he could hit first or second -- even third (or), fourth, (and) fifth."
Sonny Gray, who is coming off his finest start of the season, starts for the Yankees. Gray is 3-3 with a 5.48 ERA but 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in his last four starts.
On Sunday, he retired the first 14 hitters and allowed a run on four hits in a season-high eight innings during a 10-1 rout of the Kansas City Royals.
Gray is 5-3 with a 3.21 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) against the Angels and each of those starts were for the Oakland Athletics.
The Angels will call up rookie Jamie Barria for his sixth start and fourth stint with the team.
Barria is 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his career and is pitching for the first time since allowing one run and four hits in seven innings in a no-decision against the Houston Astros on May 15.
Barria has not allowed more than two runs in his first five starts. The right-hander also has struck out 14 in his last two starts after getting six strikeouts in his first three outings.