NEW YORK -- It may not come as any surprise that Mark Teixeira wants to continue his baseball career beyond this, the final year of his eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees.
Teixeira is only 35, and he said on Thursday he intends on playing another five or six years.
It also may not come as any surprise that Teixeira wants to continue his career with the Yankees. He began making his case the past two days by hitting a pair of big three-run homers in consecutive Yanks victories. Teixeira's seventh-inning shot to the opposite field on Thursday provided the margin of victory in New York's 8-5 win over the Astros at Yankee Stadium.
If Teixeira wants to remain with the Yankees, he has to stay healthy, and this is the kind of production the club is going to need: .364 (4-for-11) with two homers and seven RBIs in the first three games.
"I've loved playing here. I've loved every minute of it," Teixeira said after the game. "This is the whole package. The Yankees are the whole package. I mean, once you've played for the Yanks you've reached the pinnacle of Major League Baseball. It's just tough to see myself in another uniform."
The switch-hitting first baseman has played in four uniforms during his 13-year career, which includes stops with the Rangers, Braves and Angels before he signed the mega deal with New York prior to the 2009 season.
That was the year the Yankees spent big bucks on free agents Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, cashing it all in on the franchise's record 27th championship by virtue of a six-game win over the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. They've been to the American League Championship Series twice since then, but have yet to return to the promised land.
Teixeira, Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner are the only players remaining from that 2009 team. And winning it all again this year would certainly go a long way toward dictating whether the Yanks will bring the often-injured Teixeira back.
"I don't know anything about contracts, but I can tell you that Teixeira's one of my best friends on the team," said Rodriguez, who is signed through 2017. "I have the utmost respect for him, and to have a guy who plays Gold Glove defense and brings stability to your lineup, he's an incredible blanket of security for us."
At no time was that more obvious than late last season. Teixeira had hit 31 homers and driven in 79 runs when he fouled a pitch off his right shin on Aug. 17. He played just two more games that season, with an MRI nearly a month later revealing a fracture.
Missing that much time wasn't much fun: "I can tell you that," Teixeira said.
It wasn't much fun for the Yankees, either. They were a game up on the Blue Jays in the AL East and 13 games over .500 at the time of the injury. Without Teixeira in the middle of the lineup, the Yanks struggled to win the AL's top Wild Card spot, clinching home-field advantage over the Astros on the final day of the season despite losing six of their last seven. New York went on to lose the AL Wild Card Game.
"It was remarkable how much we missed him last year when he went down," Rodriguez said.
"It really changed our lineup against left-handers," said manager Joe Girardi. "He's a Gold Glove-winning first baseman. He's a switch-hitter in the middle of the order. You know, he's productive from both sides. When we don't have him we miss him. We definitely miss him, and it's great to have him back."
The Yanks clawed back on Thursday from deficits of 3-0 and 5-2, and it was A-Rod who knotted the game at 5 with a solid single up the middle.
Rodriguez struggled at the plate for the final two months of the 2015 season and began this one in the same funk. He was 0-for-8 with three walks on the year when he came to the plate against Astros starter Mike Fiers with one out in the fifth inning.
"You look up there [at the scoreboard] and you see zeros all over the place," Rodriguez said. "Everyone else is hitting over .500 or .600. It definitely felt good to get the first one out of the way."
Rodriguez's next single in the seventh followed one by Gardner and set the stage for Teixeira's three-run homer, his 193rd home run since coming to the Yankees, which moved him into sole possession of 17th place in franchise history. Batting left-handed against the righty Ken Giles, Teixeira hit the ball where he rarely does, to left-center field.
"I don't hit many that way," he said. "I haven't hit many that way in my entire career, so when I do it feels good. I'm a pull hitter, especially left-handed. I hit it really well, a line drive. I just didn't know if it was going to be high enough."
It was certainly high enough. High, deep and gone. The kind of thing Teixeira is going to have to keep doing to make his case to stay with the Yanks beyond this year.