If yesterday seemed like a busy day in the Bronx, today has made it seem like a cakewalk. With news breaking that Mark Teixeira’s injured right wrist will require season-ending surgery, he spoke to the media at length. Brian Cashman also addressed the media about the A-Rod situation, which I’ll have posted soon.
How tough is to get this news?… It’s very tough; especially in a season where the team could really use me. We’ve had some really, really good teams the last few years, and this year we have a great team. I would love to be apart of this team. I would really have loved to be apart of what hopefully will be a playoff run, but when you realize that it’s not going to happen it’s tough.
Was there a point when you realized that your season could be over?… The final point was this past Sunday when, after a week, the cortisone shot didn’t work. I usually respond very well to cortisone shots. I’ve had a dozen in my career, and I’ve always responded pretty well. It didn’t work and I wasn’t getting any better, so I knew it was going to be bad news.
When will you have the surgery?… Probably early next week. We’re just sorting through he’s going to do the surgery and the getting the specifics out of the way. But we’ll do it early next week, and then four-to-five months of rehab, and then the doctor expects me to be 100 percent in six months.
Are there any long term concerns?… I asked one of the doctors – we’ve been talking and consulting with a few – I asked one of them, ‘Once this surgery is done, is there any worry that I’ll ever have anymore problems?’ And he said, ‘None.’ This isn’t one of those degenerative conditions in the joint where you need to kind of protect it the rest of your career. It’s a torn tendon sheet, and you have to fix the torn tendon. Once it’s fixed, I should be OK.
Do you have any regrets about coming back too soon?… No regrets at all. Hindsight is 20-20, obviously, but we had a great plan. We had a plan that said the team suggested that we rehab it, and I agreed. I wanted to rehab it and didn’t want to have the surgery. I felt pretty good in Tampa. I was having good batting practices, good simulated games. My first week back with the team was far better than I ever expected. Three home runs, driving the ball, but at some point on the West Coast, I reinjured it. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I have no regrets. Up until the point when I reinjured it, everything was going pretty well.
Did the doctors indicate why it was injured again?… It’s tough to exactly tell. It could have been one check swing, one bad swing, it could have been one violent swing that finally did it again. Or, it could have just been the constant wear. You guys know, baseball players, we swing the bat really hard. It’s very violent swing, and if your wrist is a little bit not right, or a little bit weak, these things happen.
Do you think this could have been an overuse injury from preparing for the WBC?… It could have definitely caused it. When the injury originally occurred, the doctor said, ‘This is kind of a classic overuse injury.’ We’ve talked about that. It’s been no secret that I’ve spent more time in the batting cage over the last two seasons than I ever have – more time on the tee, more time working on the swing. Being a switch-hitter, that’s double what most players would put on their wrists. The overuse just got to me. It’s like a pitcher with pitch counts. Maybe we should start having swing counts on hitters because there’s a lot more wrist injuries in baseball.
Do you have any regrets about the WBC?… No, because I would have been swinging just as much during spring training. One thing about baseball is, whether it’s the WBC, a spring training game or a home run derby, you want to perform. You want to succeed, so you don’t want to go out there and make a fool out of yourself and fail. You get your swing right, and if you’re swing isn’t right, you take extra swings.
When you first felt it, did you think it could cost you the season?… That’s the first thing that you think about: ‘I don’t want to miss the season.’ Then when we had the conversations with the doctors and decided we were going to opt for no surgery, I wanted to be back in a month… I wanted to be back by May 1st. That was the original goal.
What kind of workouts do you do in the offseason?… We don’t have enough time for that. I have an exercise program, as we all do. It’s running, it’s stretching, it’s weight-lifting, it’s tee work, it’s footwork drills. It’s a comprehensive workout routine that I’ve had my whole career. You tweak it every now and then, depending on what you’re working on and how your body feels, but nothing too different from what I’ve always done. I swung more, but lifted actually a little bit less this offseason. Like I said, maybe the extra swinging is what put the extra stress on the wrist.
Can you speak about the personal feeling of frustration?… It’s been very tough. I’ve been blessed my whole career to be relatively healthy. I averaged 150 games the first 10 years of my career, and I’ll play 15 games this year. That’s completely out of the norm for me, and it’s very tough. When you play for the New York Yankees, you want to win a championship every year. When you are not on the field and then are told that you’re out for the rest of the season, you can’t help your team do that. You feel pretty worthless as a baseball player.
What do you think about the job Girardi has done?… He’s done an amazing job. We have such a great family. We’re so tight, and we have each other’s backs. I’ve been on four different teams in four different organizations, and while every organization that I’ve played for has been great in their own way, the Yankee family is special. I think we all understand that as players, as managers, as coaches… Our support staff is the best staff out there, and I’m not just saying that because I’m here. We’re a family, and Joe has kept us together. We haven’t pointed fingers when things have gone bad, and no one has stood up and said, ‘I’m the reason that we’re winning right now.’
How much does this team need Alex back?… It would be great. I would love to see a healthy Alex. We all know what he’s capable of. The same goes for Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter and Michael Pineda. When you have all of your troops together and they’re all performing together, then you know what the team is capable of. I don’t think we know exactly what our team is capable of, because we haven’t had our whole team this year. But we’ve done a great job so far; I’ll say that.
Do you agree with Kevin Long’s comments that the wrist was never right?… It’s tough to say. The mechanics were definitely compromised a little bit, but listen. I broke my ankle, and my running mechanics have been different since I was 21. I had a very bad quad tear and knee injury in the 2007 season, and my running mechanics were compromised then. I’ve worked through wrist injuries in the past, I’ve worked through shoulder injuries – we don’t tell you guys everything that happens. Every now and then, you work through things. You figure out a way to make your swing not hurt.
How big of a blow is losing Tex?… Well, it’s definitely not what we wanted. We thought that the shot would get him through, but they’ve decided that he needs surgery and we’re going to have to do it without him.
Did you expect this news when the cortisone shot wasn’t working?… When he was in his fourth and fifth day and he really wasn’t having any relief and still having pain, there was some concern of mine. That’s why he was evaluated again.
Is the plan to go with Overbay at first?… For right now, yeah.
With Youk and Tex gone for the year, how tough is it now that this guys have been lost for the season?… I’ve always said that you worry about the guys who are in the room at the time, and that’s basically what we’ll continue to do. There’s obviously talk about the other guys coming back, but until we have them, they’re not in that room. It’s tough when you miss players. No one is going to feel sorry for you. The guys in that room understand what they need to do, so we need to go out and get the job done.
How does this affect what you’re trying to accomplish here?… It doesn’t really change what we’re trying to accomplish; it just makes it a little different in how you accomplish it. There was a lot of not knowing who was going to be our outfielders when the season started, and exactly who was going to be our first baseman when the season started. We’ve kind of settled in on that. We expected Derek, and then that changed. Nunie went down, and we’ve had a number of guys who have played shortstop since then. It’s changed a little bit, but I don’t think it really changes what your goal is.
Have all of the injuries changed how you’ve had to go about scoring runs?… Yeah, I think it has. As you look, we’re stacking five left-handers, which is not something that I like doing. It has changed, but if we hit four homers every night like we did last night, we’ll be alright.