NEW YORK -- The final out of the 2009 World Series landed safely in Mark Teixeira's glove at first base, helping the Yankees christen their new ballpark with a championship. It would be just one of many memorable moments for a player who hopes to be remembered for his 14
NEW YORK -- The final out of the 2009 World Series landed safely in Mark Teixeira's glove at first base, helping the Yankees christen their new ballpark with a championship. It would be just one of many memorable moments for a player who hopes to be remembered for his 14 Major League seasons as a slick-fielding switch-hitter with power.
During an emotional news conference at Yankee Stadium, Teixeira battled back tears as he announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of this season. He often touted the consistency on the back of his bubble-gum cards, tallying eight straight seasons of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, but it has become too difficult for him to continue producing those round numbers.
"I gave you everything I had," Teixeira said, pausing to compose himself. "It wasn't always enough, but I tried my best, and I'm proud to have a World Series ring with the Yankees. It's something I'll never forget."
As recently as this spring, Teixeira had been optimistic about his chances of playing another five seasons, but he has been limited by persistent neck spasms and an articular cartilage tear in his right knee that will require surgery. Teixeira entered Friday hitting .198 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in 77 games, and said he has tired of spending his days receiving treatment.
Teixeira to retire after 2016 season
"As the season went on, I just realized that my body couldn't do it anymore," Teixeira said. "If I'm going to grind through seasons not being healthy, I'd rather be home with my family. I'd rather do something else. I miss my kids way too much to be in a training room in Detroit rather than being at their dance recital or their school play."
Teixeira said that he came to his decision shortly after hitting career homer No. 400 on July 3 at San Diego's Petco Park, when he joined Mickey Mantle (536), Eddie Murray (504), Chipper Jones (468) and Carlos Beltrán (415) as the only switch-hitters to hit 400 or more homers.
In the clubhouse following the game, Teixeira had a long embrace with his father, John, who had happened to be in attendance that afternoon.
"I just kind of knew, all right, that's it," Teixeira said. "I talked to my family a lot about it over the All-Star break, and I made the decision then."
Though 54 games remained on the Yankees' schedule entering Friday, Teixeira said that he was urged to make the announcement now so as not to be a distraction for a team in transition. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he plans to play Teixeira as often as his health will allow.
"We asked him, 'What do you want out of your last two months?'" Girardi said. "He said, 'I want to get to the playoffs, what do you need from me?' I said, 'To help us get there, in a sense. Play as much as you can and as much as your knee will allow that.'"
Teixeira has missed 305 games in the past five seasons, but he had been thought by some to be on a Cooperstown track, giving the Yankees instant returns on an eight-year, $180 million contract signed prior to the 2009 season. In his first four seasons as a Yankee, Teixeira hit 135 home runs with 425 RBIs and an .863 OPS.
A turning point came in spring 2013, as Teixeira sustained a right wrist injury while preparing to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Teixeira said that was the beginning of the end for him: He has hit just .222 with 66 home runs and 180 RBIs since then, though he enjoyed a renaissance 31-homer campaign as an All-Star in 2015.
"You think about all that he's accomplished -- the home runs, the RBIs," Girardi said. "I think Mark was a Hall of Fame type of hitter when he was healthy. What was so impressive to me was his defense, he never took it for granted. This was a Hall of Fame defensive type of guy, too."
According to MLB Network, Teixeira is the only first baseman to reach 400 home runs, 1,200 RBIs, 900 walks, a .500-plus slugging percentage and five Gold Glove Awards. A first-round pick in 2001 out of Georgia Tech, Teixeira played five seasons with the Rangers, two with the Braves and part of one with the Angels. He thanked all of his former organizations, as well as his final one.
"It's an unbelievable honor to be able to put on the pinstripes every day," Teixeira said. "Not many people get to do it, and I got to do it for eight straight years, and that's something I'll always remember."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.