TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees believe that there is a 70 percent chance Mark Teixeira will be able to avoid season-ending surgery on the partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. For those odds to work in their favor, they must be careful not to rush his recovery.
That is why Teixeira continues to say that he is not exactly sure when he will return to the Yankees' lineup. The team has estimated Teixeira will need eight to 10 weeks to recover from the injury, which he suffered on March 3. But Teixeira now acknowledges that he might need to miss the entire month of May.
"This is one of those things, I can't come back too early," Teixeira said. "Unfortunately, if I try to play too early, we could miss the whole season, and we don't want that. I don't know if it's going to be middle of May, beginning of May, beginning of June. I don't know when it is, but I know that there's a whole bunch of season left -- and the time that really matters is the playoffs."
Teixeira's tendon sheath injury is similar to the one that ended the year for Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista in 2012. Bautista hurried back from the injury after five weeks of rehab and required season-ending surgery. After he rushed to recover from a calf injury last year and experienced a setback that cost him nearly all of September, Teixeira said he does not intend to repeat the same mistake.
"It's like a pitcher with an elbow or a shoulder [injury]," Teixeira said. "If you come back early from Tommy John or a labrum, you're going to hurt yourself. It's not like a sore knee. If I come back early, I'm not going to be very good and I could blow it out and risk surgery. Then, I'm out the whole year."
The Yankees had previously said that Teixeira had suffered only a strain of the ECU tendon in his right wrist while hitting off a tee while preparing for the World Baseball Classic with Team USA in Arizona. Teixeira rejected the suggestion that participating in the Classic could be tracked to his injury.
"It has nothing to do with the WBC," Teixeira said. "It'd be one thing if we weren't playing games. We started playing games on the 23rd of February. That's insane. Feb. 23? Think about it. We usually report Feb. 23. So we're playing games -- it doesn't matter if you're playing WBC [or] playing Spring Training.
"I was hitting off a tee. If you're going to tell me, 'Mark, the first three weeks of Spring Training we don't want you hitting off a tee,' I've been doing that since December."
Because Teixeira has a partially torn tendon sheath and a stable tendon, it remains possible that he will be able to avoid surgery. The Yankees obviously hope that is the case, considering their lineup will be without the power-hitting contributions of Teixeira and Curtis Granderson for at least the season's first month.
"I've said all along I was more concerned about Tex than Grandy because bones heal. Wrists, you're always worried about," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're not going to rush it. We're going to do everything that we're told to do and rehab it and hope it works."
Teixeira returned to Yankees camp on Sunday, and plans to be with the club in Florida until the regular season begins. Because of the right wrist injury, Teixeira said he has been limited to working out by running, riding a stationary bicycle and lower-body exercises.
He suggested that one possible reason for his last two injury-marred seasons has been overuse.
"Body fat, running-wise, all that kind of stuff, I feel amazing," Teixeira said. "I've had two injuries. I think maybe it's just overuse. Maybe I was running too much, maybe I was swinging too much. A little calf, little wrist thing here.
"I swing twice as much as anybody as it is. I swing with the weighted bat to get loosened up. It makes you feel good, makes you feel strong. It's something that [hitting coach] Kevin Long and I will talk about."
The Yankees have not yet decided how they will absorb the losses of Teixeira and Granderson. New acquisitions Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco have entered the outfield mix, while the Yankees are giving veterans Juan Rivera and Dan Johnson consideration at first base. Teixeira expressed confidence that the Yankees will find answers to help hold the fort.
"We have a great team. We have guys that are going to be able to pick me up when I'm gone," Teixeira said. "We have guys that can pick Curtis up when he's gone. I think Curtis and I will be back around the same time, and that'll be a big boost to the club."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.