When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira to an eight-year contract worth $180 million in December of 2008, he was viewed a switch-hitting first baseman in his prime who hits for power, average and plays outstanding defense. Now in the fourth year of that deal, Teixeira remains a switch-hitting first baseman who plays outstanding defense, but the rest of the attributes that made him such an expensive signing have been lacking. A notoriously slow starter, it would be unfair to judge Tex based on just the first month and a half of the 2012 season. But there has been a noticeable trend since he arrived in the Bronx.
2009 — Batting average: .292; Slugging percentage: .565; OPS: .948
2010 — BA: .256; SLG: .481; OPS: .846
2011 — BA: .248; SLG: .494; OPS: .835
2012 — BA: .228; SLG: .386; OPS: .669
Joe Girardi decided to give Teixeira a day-off for tonight’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds, as he has been dealing with a strange hacking cough for a couple of weeks that won’t seem to go away.
“He’s been going hard for us,” Girardi said. “He has had the issue, and we talked about some days off on the road trip. He talked about continuing to play, and I just said, ‘Today is the day.’ ”
Girardi said he’s going to see how Teixeira feels tomorrow, and may even consider giving him back-to-back days off. As many of you know, Teixeira is a player who takes a lot of pride in being there for this team everyday, which part of the reason why he’s fit in so well here. He doesn’t want to come out of the lineup, but several tests haven’t been able to pinpoint what’s wrong with Teixeira beyond a bad cough.
“This is a job that you can’t very often call in sick,” Girardi said. “You have to be really sick not to play in our job. We get four months off at the end – that’s when you get well.”
It certainly can’t be easy for Tex to play through this ailment — many of us have trouble sitting at our desks for our jobs when we’re not feeling well. As Chad pointed out yesterday, Tex has actually swung the bat better in the past week. He went 0 for 4 last night, snapping a six-game hitting streak. But with the undeniable downward trends he has shown since becoming a Yankee, the question is whether or not the Yankees will ever get the player that they thought they were getting?
“It seems like there’s been so much focus on Tex and what he’s done with runners in scoring position, but there’s about five or six other guys,” Girardi said. “If all of the other guys were doing what they’re supposed to be doing, then we wouldn’t be focused on Tex.”
• Andy Pettitte will be making his second start in the big leagues since 2010 today, and there seems to be a bit more normalcy after all of the hoopla that surrounded his first start last Sunday against the Mariners. “I’m looking forward to him getting on a routine that he’s used to and not having to answer so many questions,” Girardi said. “It’s just a normal season for him now. Every fifth day he’s going to go out and take the baseball.”
• Pettitte was effective in his first start, not allowing a hit through the first three innings. He threw strikes and seemed to be using pretty much everything in his arsenal, but the Mariners tagged him a bit at the end of his outing. He gave up two homers and looked more hittable as the game wore on, but that was to be expected. Overall, everyone seems to be encouraged by what they saw. “He left a couple of balls up, but I thought he threw the ball pretty well,” Girardi said. “He had all of his pitches that day, which is encouraging as well. I thought his stamina was good, and his velocity maintained throughout the game. He was able to come out and do his work two days later, so I felt pretty good about that.”
• Chris Stewart will catch Pettitte today, with the struggling Russell Martin receiving the day off. Stewart has never caught Pettitte. “We got in late last night and played two days on the turf. I just figured I’d give him a day,” Girardi said. “I think Stew will be fine.”
• I’m excited to potentially see Reds phenom Aroldis Chapman. The flame-throwing lefty from Cuba has yet to allow an earned run in 20.1 IP while striking out 36. I’m sure guys like Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano will see him at some point in this series.
• Tomorrow’s scheduled starter is Ivan Nova, who had to leave his last start early with a sprained right ankle. Girardi said he fully expects him to make the start, but he did have a pretty funny response when asked the question. “We’ve seen people fall down stairs, slip, have shagging issues,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t see anything changing now. The only thing that could change is when he warmed up tomorrow, if he felt it.”
• In the event that Nova does feel something, it will likely be Freddy Garcia who takes the ball. “Freddy’s a guy who I wouldn’t mind putting in that position just to see how he does,” Girardi said. “He’s thrown better since he moved to the bullpen.”
• Girardi was asked about whether or not he’s surprised that the Yankees have now joined the Red Sox in the cellar of the AL East. The Yankees are one of four teams in the division over .500. “I think that’s surprising because it’s not where we’re used to be, but we knew this division was going to be ultra-competitive,” he said. “You look up, and we’re not that far out. … We’re right there. As I’ve said, my concern is not the standings, but the way we’re playing. And we need to play better.”
• Girardi was also asked about Kerry Wood, who announced that he would retire after an appearance in today’s game. He entered the game at Wrigley Field with one out in the eighth inning to face the White Sox’s Dayan Viciedo, and him struck out on three pitches. “Tremendous sutff, overpowering stuff, dominant stuff,’ Girardi said. “Most every day he went out there – especially before he had the arm surgery – he had no-hit stuff. … I was a teammate of his, and I loved playing with him. He loved to play the game – he really did. And managing him, he did a tremendous job for us. He gave our bullpen a huge boost when he got here and pitched extremely well for us… I’m sure it’s going to be a difficult day for him, but he came up a Cub, and I’m sure if he was going to retire, that’s where he’d want to do it.”
• Here’s today’s lineup for the Reds: 1. Cozart SS; 2. Stubbs CF; 3. Votto 1B; 4. Phillips 2B; 5. Bruce RF; 6. Heisey LF; 7. Frazier 3B; 8. Cairo DH; 9. Hanigan C.
Associated Press photos