Healthy Teixeira's goal: 150-plus games in 2014
Surgically repaired wrist feels stiff at times, but slugger's spring plan mapped out
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mark Teixeira spent most of the winter indoors while rehabbing his surgically repaired right wrist. Now that the Yankees first baseman has made it back to the diamond, he plans on sticking around for a while.
Teixeira was pleased by his first on-field batting practice session of the spring Sunday morning, hitting from both sides of the plate and spraying line drives into the sunshine at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
After being limited to just 15 games last year, Teixeira said that he wants the Yankees to count on having him at first base for the majority of the upcoming season.
"I absolutely plan on playing 150-plus games this year. That's my goal," Teixeira said. "Every now and then I'll have a day off, of course. That's just natural. You get beat up a little bit during the season, but I expect to have a healthy, productive season."
Teixeira said that he experienced no setbacks this winter while recovering from a July 1 procedure to repair a damaged tendon sheath in his wrist, and the slugger even added a few pounds of muscle because he was able to lift more.
The wrist still feels stiff at times, particularly when he bats left-handed, but Teixeira said the Yankees have already mapped out a plan that will give him about 50 spring at-bats. He thinks that should be plenty to know if he's all the way back.
"I'm going to get as many swings as I need," Teixeira said. "It'll be a little slow the first couple of weeks, just to make sure I'm easing into things, but we're here for six weeks. It's not like you have a week to get ready for the season."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he expects Teixeira to be an everyday first baseman this season, but Teixeira is not planning to be ready for game action when the Yankees open their spring slate on Feb. 25. Instead, he is eyeing the first week of March for his first exhibition contest.
"We'll just wait to see how the next 10 days or so go, and see where he's at once the games start," Girardi said. "Once [head athletic trainer] Stevie [Donohue] and the doctors declare him ready, I'll put him in there. I'm not really planning on it being a time where we have to wait a long time, but we'll see."
Teixeira said that even though he has hit all of the recovery checkpoints without issue, there is still some lingering doubt in the back of his mind. He looked fine hitting off a tee and taking batting practice on Sunday, but those fears won't vanish until Teixeira faces pitching at game speed.
"Everyone can go out after major surgery and go, 'I'm fine, I'm going to be good as ever,' but you don't really know that until you go out there," Teixeira said. "For me, it's just kind of two steps: make sure I'm healthy, and that means taking full swings at a 95-mph fastball in a Spring Training game.
"And we have six weeks to figure that out. If that's the case and I'm healthy and I can do that for a week straight, then it's all about production. You don't worry about the injury anymore."
Teixeira said that if he is healthy, he expects to get back to serving as an anchor in the batting order. The slugger figures that he should have company in that department, coming off a winter in which he repeatedly texted general manager Brian Cashman to cheer the additions of players like Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.
"I think the great thing is, look at our lineup," Teixeira said. "We're back to being the Yankees again. Last year, we weren't the Yankees. We had so many injuries and we had so many guys that should have been in there to be lots of anchors. That's back.
"There's not one guy that has to carry this team, but absolutely I expect to hit in the middle of the order, hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs. That's going to take pressure off everybody and help us win games."