This is the Yankees lineup the kids have been dreaming about


TAMPA — The 2015 Opening Day lineup for Double-A Trenton featured a familiar 2-3-4: Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez.

The order might not be the same when the Yankees open the regular season against the Rays on April 2, but if all goes according to plan, the three former minor league teammates will be together in an Opening Day lineup again soon enough.

And Sanchez showed again on Saturday a glimpse of why the Yankees have changed course so significantly this season with an opposite-field homer off Daniel Norris in a 7-1 win over the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field.

For Bird, it was a glimpse of something else he missed out on during a 2016 season he lost because of shoulder surgery.

“I can’t wait for the chance to play with him again,” Bird said after Sanchez’s first-inning homer. “I’ve always enjoyed it. What Gary is doing is not a surprise to people who have been around him so long. He’s always been capable of it. Now people are seeing it come to fruition on a bigger stage. It’s awesome to watch and awesome to be a part of.”

The two played in Trenton in 2014 and split the next year with stints in Trenton, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and The Bronx.

Though it was Bird who made the big splash at the end of 2015 in place of the injured Mark Teixeira, Sanchez outdid him a year later in forcing Brian McCann out of the lineup — and then New York.

Bird spent most of 2016 rehabbing his shoulder in Tampa, but did make a cameo at Yankee Stadium in the latter part of last season before getting back on the field in the instructional league and the Arizona Fall League.

That brief time in The Bronx for the Sanchez show reminded Bird what he had witnessed firsthand for years.

“I got a good look at him that 10 days or so,” Bird said. “It was pretty much a continuation of what I’d seen all along, and this spring has been no different.”

It is the kind of thing Bird, Sanchez and Judge talked about as young minor leaguers, along with third baseman Eric Jagielo — who hit fifth in that Trenton lineup and was part of the trade that brought Aroldis Chapman from Cincinnati in December 2015.

“We pretty much stayed in the moment,” Bird said. “But it was hard not to picture ourselves all moving up and doing similar things together in the majors.”

The trio’s numbers have been strikingly similar this spring.

Bird hit his fourth double on Saturday, which came against the lefty Norris. He is now 10-for-24 with seven extra-base hits.

Sanchez had a pair of hits and three RBIs and is 9-for-26 with two doubles and three homers, while Judge, even after a hitless afternoon, is 9-for-29 with three extra-base hits.

Plus, Sanchez was behind the plate for Masahiro Tanaka’s four perfect innings and seven strikeouts.

“His catching has come so far,” said Bird, a former backstop. “I have a little background in catching and to watch him in ’14, ’15 and now, he’s so much better. That will be huge for us.”

And if Bird and Sanchez can prove their two-month Bronx auditions were no flukes, it would be even bigger.



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