Teixeira admits he is “not trusting that the wrist is healthy”

Mailbag: Pineda, Wheeler, Roberts, Semien
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The Yankees will play their final two Spring Training games tonight and tomorrow afternoon before opening their regular season in Houston against the Astros on Tuesday. They made it through a full six weeks of camp relatively healthy — assuming Jacoby Ellsbury‘s tight calf is as minor as the team is letting on — so in that sense, this spring has been a big success. Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda look very good, which is icing on the cake.

One of the biggest concerns coming into the spring was Mark Teixeira, particularly the status of his surgically repaired right wrist. He missed essentially all of last year and was on a prolonged rehab program that had him swinging a bat in December and facing live pitching in early-March. A few weeks ago Teixeira acknowledged there was still some stiffness in the wrist, which isn’t uncommon after surgery. On Thursday though, he told Kevin Kernan he still does not trust that the wrist is healthy:

“I’m not trusting that the wrist is healthy,’’ Teixeira told The Post Thursday at Steinbrenner Field.

“I’m just trying to protect it,’’ he said. “Taking your ‘A’ swing, taking that swing that is 100 percent and I need to trust that I can do that and not feel pain. I need to finish my swing instead of protecting my wrist. Last year, to protect my wrist, I didn’t finish my swing.’’

Teixeira, who will turn 34 in exactly two weeks, did say “the wrist is feeling good” overall, so he’s not in pain or discomfort or anything. He’s just hasn’t fully cut it loose yet, like a pitcher who is tentative to throw the ball will full effort after Tommy John surgery.

One scout said Teixeira “still has some rust to knock off that swing,” which is obvious given his Grapefruit League performance: two singles and one double in 33 at-bats (.091 AVG, .121 SLG) against mostly MLB caliber competition according to Baseball Reference’s opponent quality stat. He’s seeing the ball fine (nine walks and nine strikeouts), it’s just that his swing isn’t all the way there. When will it be back?

“Hopefully, really soon,’’ said Teixeira, who averaged 34 home runs and 106 RBIs his first four seasons as a Yankee but was limited to three home runs and 12 RBIs last year, when he got only 53 at-bats.

“Obviously, we’re kind of running out of time in spring training, but I know that my wrist is going to get stronger as the year goes on and I think I’m going to progressively get better,’’ he said.

Given the nature of the injury and the fact he missed just about all of last season, it’s not exactly a surprise Teixeira’s swing isn’t all the way back. Swings, really, he is a switch-hitter. Forty-something Grapefruit League plate appearances and countless hacks in batting practice isn’t necessarily enough to get back in a groove.

Teixeira has traditionally been a slow starter and with the acknowledgement that he still doesn’t trust his wrist this close to the start of the season, the Yankees can’t start the year with him in the middle of the lineup. There are too many other quality hitters on the team for Tex to bat third or fourth without fully trusting the wrist. He is an important player, but the Yankees can’t expect him to be an impact player in an important lineup spot if he’s admitting he’s not where he needs to be. Common sense.

In a perfect world, maybe Teixeira would start the season on the DL so he can stay behind in Extended Spring Training and get eight or ten at-bats a day. But because the Yankees don’t have a true backup first baseman who can man the position everyday for a week or two, they’re stuck taking him north and letting him gain trust in that wrist on the fly. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only option the team has right now.

Mailbag: Pineda, Wheeler, Roberts, Semien
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  • David N

    They can’t stick Kelly Johnson over at first for a bit and then figure out a third base solution? This plan sounds like a surefire way to get Tex hurt for a long time again, and I’d rather patch together an infield for two weeks than two or three (or four) months.

    They’ve got to have a backup plan in case Tex goes down a month into the season (maybe it’s the wrist, or maybe he gets hit by a pitch and breaks his arm). Why not just use that plan now? Unless they really don’t have one, which strikes me as very short-sighted.

    • Curtis Granderson’ Right Arm

      Getting hit by a pitch and breaking an arm? Ridiculous. That never happens.

    • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew) RIP Egon

      I completely agree with you. How is it that a team that is trying to compete for a championship plan for their backup 1B is also their starting 3B and backup 2B? Forgiving me for the lack of outside the box options but I would have offered Reynolds a incentive laden major league deal. Having a Johnson/Reynolds platoon is hardly ideal but it fills a need that if Teix goes down or needs a day that the guy replacing him or play 3B can hit the ball out of the park. The ship has sailed but man it is a glaring hole right now for the Yankees.

    • LK

      I mean…you can see the roster. What would your backup plan be?

    • Wheels

      Put McCann at first if you have to, and Cervelli can catch.

    • qwerty

      they can stick nunez over there.

      • Wheels

        and pray.

    • http://comcast.net 42yankee

      They should have kept Mark Reynolds. He can play 3rd & 1st and hits better than TEX. I’ve said this all winter. TEX needs to retire with Jeter. How long has it been since Texy hurt his wrist off a TEE. What a WUSS.

  • HK

    So tired of this guys excuses. We signed him for what was supposed to be his prime years, and the entire time he’s talked about a decline as if he’s 5 years older than he actually is.

    • TWTR

      Obviously, he has been a major disappointment given his massive contract, but that’s a sunk cost. Even the declined version of Teix that we last saw in 2012 would really help this team.

    • Wheels

      He’s such an awesome fielder still though, it almost offsets his crappy hitting. It’s a reassuring feeling seeing him man first base. Hopefully he can get it going at the plate to a modestly successful level, I’d be cool with that.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      How is this an excuse? Either it heals right or it doesn’t.

      Real easy to point fingers from a computer chair.

    • Pasqua

      Your comment is one of those reasons that athletes are damned if the do, damned if they don’t…especially in NY. The guy is being honest. He’s telling you, straight up, that he hasn’t found his “A-game” yet. How is that an excuse? I actually respect the fact that he’s being straightforward, as opposed to certain players who stubbornly insist they’re fine when they’re clearly not and end up hurting themselves (and the team) further.

  • Rob S.

    Teixeira should not start the season on the DL. It doesn’t sound like he is injured. It sounds like more of a mental thing. The only way he will get comfortable and confident is to continue taking at bats. Plenty of players coming back after injuries have to start their seasons with nagging doubts and fears. I only wish Tex had kept it to himself. Talking to the media about it makes it seem like he making excuses premptively.

  • Frank

    Yanks spend nearly 1/2 billion dollars and still so many ?s for this team. Tex is just one of many.

    • I’m One

      They committed 1/2 billion dollars, over many years. They haven’t spent it yet.

      • CS Yankee

        I’ll certainly take their debt-to-equity ratio.

        This team, although fragile, is stacked! looking forward to Opening Day and maybe catching them a few times on the road in jete’s last year.

    • http://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/generic?p0=179&iso=20140401T19&year=2014&month=4&day=1&hour=19&min=0&sec=0&msg=Opening%20Day! Get Phelps Up

      Well, Tex’s status is completley unrelated to how much they spent.

  • Scott

    Sounds like he’s setting the table for sucking. Preemptive suck age notification.

  • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

    Sign Kendrys Morales!

    Jesus, did I just say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me???

    • CS Yankee

      June 15th, 3M$…and hopefully he sits as Sori, Teix and Jete all stay healthy and productive. They sign him just to keep the Rays, Sox, etc from having him ala Canseco in ’98.

    • LK

      He’s really not even a first baseman though. If you sign Morales it almost has to be as a primary DH, which isn’t really a fit for this team.

      • I’m One

        Agree on Morales. I guess their thinking is, if necessary (and we don’t know yet if it will be), they’ll be able to pick up someone that can either perform better or is cheaper as the season progresses. This has worked at times in the past.

      • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

        I wasn’t really being serious.

        Hence the Fear and Loathing quote.


    Hey guys, yeah you with your head in the clouds ! These long-term, “guaranteed” mama-jama contracts, rarely, if ever work out ! but hey, at least you’re not Detroit. Though, that McCaan signing looks like a friggin’ bargain right around now ! Now, here’s our suggestion; take all the money allocated for a future, long-term albatross, and instead, throw it all back in to your minor league system. and furthemore, take that seemingly limitless reserve of cash you have, and use it for that “not-so-secret”, Int’l FA splurge you’re about to go on. Its all about the kids; development and keeping them for as long as they’re cost controlled. I do like what you guys have going on in the lower minors though. Good luck, and good job in saying no to Cano (hey that rhymes). P.S., Ellsbury hurt already ?! SHOCKING !

    • CS Yankee

      Economics, FTW…

      …nobody is paying money, TV rights or seats, to see DBJ hit below the Mendoza-line in High A.

      Enjoy the ride, they are who they are and that is why we follow them. Stay with the laundry but you need a connection with the old man or kid behind the number.

    • TWTR

      It’s not all about development when you are the cash cow that the Yankees are, but if they could ever be even average at it, they would be awesome.

  • eselquetodolosabe

    Mark… Babe… Darling… Bubala – STFU ! Nobody wants to hear it !
    Oh man, I’m sorry Mark, that wasn’t nice. But seriously, STFU !

  • Darren

    Do most of you feel like HK does, that Tex is making excuses?

    I heard Boomer and Carton say the same thing this morning, and it was surprising to me. I never got the sense that he was an excuse-maker or a malingerer. It sucks that he weirdly stopped hitting but I never had a problem with him.

    • TWTR

      I really don’t care what he says, I only care about what he does on the field, but I think the big money has reduced his incentive to make adjustments.

      • Niko

        I think that is the issue with all of these whale contracts: they erase incentive to perform. Any player knows that they needn’t risk a damn bit of discomfort if they are getting paid no matter what.

    • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

      He’s always been pretty stand-up to me. I hate how people judge explanations to be “excuses” sometimes. He missed pretty much all of last year with this injury, we know it can linger, why give him grief over it?

  • ALZ

    I’d just stick him in the 6 slot, and run him out there. He always starts slow. As long as it is structurally fine I don’t have a problem with running him out there. Letting him sit for 2 weeks isn’t going to help him warm up faster.

  • Justin

    This makes sense. I had a (not nearly as serious) injury a month ago, and my dumb ass didn’t stop running. I altered my stride and it went away, but then it created some stiffness because I was afraid to fully trust my knee.

    What solved it was I went and got a sports massage to confirm I was healthy, and he confirmed that I was just tensing my leg up to avoid letting go. So at this point, it’s probably psychosomatic (not fake, just that it’s in his head), and he needs to relax.

  • Eddardo Nuney

    I don’t think Teixera will ever be the same again. He won’t be the middle of the lineup bat that we signed. He could just be another few years of Lyle Overbay with a glove.

  • Pinkie Pie

    At least he’s honest.

  • willie w

    can’t he just get an MRI and CAT scan and trust the results

  • whitey

    Watched him take BP in Tampa. Looked awful-bat appeared to be about 25 lbs.