Despite injuries, Teixeira not feeling sorry for himself
Relatively healthy to start career, ailments starting to pile up for first baseman
NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is rehabbing from his umpteenth injury since the last month of the 2012 season. This time, it's a right hamstring strain that put him on the 15-day disabled list again on April 5.
If it seems like Teixeira just got over a right wrist injury and surgery, which truncated his 2013 season, he did.
Teixeira said on Saturday before the Yankees played the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium that he can't feel sorry for himself about missing 168 of 191 regular-season games dating back to Aug. 28, 2012, because of a strained left calf, a torn ECU sheath in his right wrist and the most recent hamstring injury. And no one else is going to feel sorry for him, either.
"I have been so lucky my entire career. I literally can't ask for more out of the first 10 years of my career," Teixeira said in very good cheer during a break in an arduous workout on Saturday. "The last year and a half has been rough. If I start to feel sorry for myself after the career I've had so far and the team success we've had, no one is going to feel sorry for me. I'm definitely not jinxed. It's just something you have to work through."
Now Teixeira is hoping to be ready and activated when he's eligible to come off the DL a week from Sunday, when the Yankees will finish a four-game series against the Rays. Teixeira is always optimistic about his ability to quickly come back, and so is manager Joe Girardi. But others in the Yankees' hierarchy are wary about setting a definite date for the return of either Teixeira or closer David Robertson, also on the DL with a strained left groin.
A week from Sunday, May 1?
"I'm not ready to say that yet," general manager Brian Cashman said this weekend. "I know they hope they can be and I certainly hope that they will be, but I think it's early in the process to say that, even though I know it's a 15-day situation for those guys. But then with rehab games, Robbie with the push-off leg, Tex with the wrist ..."
Teixeira took batting practice in the cages on Saturday and said that the wrist is doing just fine. He suffered that injury hitting off a tee as Team USA prepared for the World Baseball Classic last year. Teixeira rested it, rehabbed it and was able to return for only 15 games before succumbing to season-ending surgery.
Teixeira spent the spring gaining strength back in the wrist and said that resting it is no longer the issue.
"If that was the case, then I wouldn't have been playing in Spring Training," Teixeira said. "My wrist isn't at the point where I need time off to shut it down. It just needs to get stronger. Taking time off doesn't make it stronger. I'm not sure where that came from."
No question, Teixeira's prolonged absence has been difficult for the team to overcome. The Yankees signed him as a free agent on Dec. 23, 2008, to an eight-year, $180 million contract that immediately paid dividends.
With Teixeira hitting .292, tying for the American League lead with 39 homers and leading the circuit with 122 RBIs, the Yankees ultimately defeated the Phillies in a tough six-game World Series.
Teixeira's production remained pretty strong until he was hurt going into the final five weeks of the 2012 season, although he returned for the last three games and the playoffs.
But without him the past two seasons, Girardi has had to use 11 other players for at least one game at first base. Last year, the brunt of the work went to the now departed Lyle Overbay. This season, Kelly Johnson has been asked to play out of position and fill in for Teixeira, leaving a big hole in the infield and the batting order.
"You miss him," Girardi said, stating the obvious about the incessant loss of Teixeira. "There's no doubt about it, you miss him."
Make no mistake about it, either, Girardi knows no matter how upbeat Teixeira acts, the entire ordeal has taken its toll on his self-confidence. Every time Teixeira rehabs and seems ready to settle in, he sustains another injury.
"I know it's worn on him. I know he's frustrated," Girardi said. "He wants to be out there for his team. He loves to play the game and this is just a little blip. Last year, it was a strange injury that he had. He got hurt during the WBC swinging, and it was a pretty significant injury. He seems to have responded well, coming back from that. He just has a mild [hamstring injury]. Hopefully we'll get through it and that will be it."
At 34, though, Teixeira is starting to turn old in baseball age. He hasn't hit a home run this season and has blasted only three since Oct. 1, 2012, just after he returned from the groin injury. All three came during his short active stint last season.
"It's not fun," Teixeira said. "You push your body to the limits, and sometimes it tells you to take some time off. I've had to take too much time off the last year and half. Hopefully this is the last break that I'll need."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.