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Greg Bird feeling 'fresh' after long DL stint, goes 1-for-2 in return

Yankees first baseman Greg Birdreached base three times in his long-awaited return to the lineup Saturday, helping the Yankees beat the Seattle Mariners6-3.

Bird, who was hobbled by ankle and foot woes, was activated from the 60-day disabled list after a strong Triple-A rehab assignment and started at first base in his first game since May 1.

Batting sixth in the lineup, Bird singled, walked twice and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's fourth-inning home run. After his single, the Yankee Stadium sound system played the theme song from 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter."

"It's fun to be back in the stadium," Bird said. "It's exciting to be part of it."

Said manager Joe Girardi after the win: "I think he can have a big impact."

The Yankees were uncertain whether Bird would return this season after he had surgery last month to remove a bone in his right foot.

But Bird belted three home runs and had six RBIs in a recent nine-game rehab assignment at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, prompting the Yankees to recall him for Saturday afternoon's game.

"It's been a long, interesting, unique journey," Bird said."I feel fresh. I haven't really played a whole lot."

The Yankees demoted first baseman Tyler Austin to Scranton late Friday night to clear a roster spot for Bird, who batted just .100 in his first 19 games with New York this season.

After missing all of the 2016 season because of shoulder surgery, Bird led the Grapefruit League in home runs with seven before fouling a ball off his right ankle in the final days of spring training.

He played through the injury but was unsuccessful at the plate, which forced him to the DL with what the Yankees initially described as a bruised bone in his ankle.

ESPN's Andrew Marchand and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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