Mark Teixeira said it won’t bother him one bit if he leaves Tampa without hitting a single home run this spring.
“I know I can,” he said. “I know I can.”
After an RBI single this afternoon, Teixeira is hitting just .167 with a single extra-base hit through five games, but that’s only 12 at-bats. Hardly a large enough sample to mean anything. Even if the power numbers don’t surge in these next two weeks, Teixeira said he’ll still feel confident as long as his surgically repaired right wrist continues to feel the way it does now. Aside from the extra medical treatment he’s getting every day — standard maintenance — Teixeira said this is starting to feel more and more like a normal spring training. The wrist is become less of a concern each day, and today was a minor hurdle with Teixeira playing back-to-back games for the first time.
“I don’t want my swing to be this power swing right away when I’ve just got to worry about having good quality swings, being short to the ball, squaring up balls,” Teixeira said. “It doesn’t really matter where they go right now because I just want to make really solid contact. … It’s really hitting the ball hard, squaring up balls, which I’ve been doing. Which is a good sign. And as I get going, more and more games, and as we get into the season, the power, that’s naturally there. The power will come.”
According to his MLB.com player page, Teixeira hit just one spring home run in 2011, a year he wound up hitting 39 in the regular season. He also homered just once in a pretty bad spring of 2007, the year he finished with the highest OPS of his career.
“He looks great,” manager for the weekend Rob Thomson said. “He’s had good at-bats. He looks balanced at the plate. He looks like he’s got his normal spring training bat speed. It’s not there yet, but it’s not behind where he normally would be at this time. And he’s played well defensively, and he ran the bases well today. So, yeah: so far, so good.”
· While making the final out of the fifth inning, Eduardo Nunez took a spike to the left thigh. He was scheduled to play one more inning, but Thomson pulled him from the game as a precaution. Nunez said the slide was unnecessarily rough — Thomson suggested the runner, Chris Colabello, forgot there were two outs and thought he had to break up a double play — but Nunez didn’t seem upset. “I don’t think he did it on purpose,” Nunez said. “He was just hustling.” Nunez wasn’t scheduled to play tomorrow anyway.
· Another backup infielder, Brendan Ryan, was able to hit and field ground balls inside today. He’s expected to do infield drills outside tomorrow. He’s still on track to likely return to games sometime next week. Ryan has continuously downplayed the significance of his sore lower back. “He looks good, and he feels really good,” Thomson said. “So that’s a really good sign.”
· Russ Canzler was scratched from the lineup because of some stiffness in his left hip. The Yankees believe it’s related to yesterday’s play when Canzler went into the stands to catch a foul ball. Believed to be a minor issue.
· Another rough outing for Manny Banuelos, who got just one out — a strikeout — while being charged with four runs on two walks and two singles. The big hit was a two-run single that was pretty weakly hit to right. Banuelos said he just didn’t have very good control, which was pretty obvious. “I think at the start it looked like he was scattered a little bit, and then he found it,” Thomson said. “They got some soft hits off him, too. I’m just, for me, I’m just happy to see him out there. He’s been out for a long time. He hasn’t had many outings. So I’m just happy that he’s out there and he’s throwing the ball. He’s going to have success because he’s got a good arm and he’s a tough kid, and we’ve just got to wait a while, that’s all.”
· Kind of an uneven start for David Phelps, who allowed two run through four innings, but probably should have gone deeper with a 75-pitch limit. “I felt like the biggest thing I took away from it, I’ve just got to put guys away,” Phelps said. “I had like six, seven, eight-pitch at-bats today and that got my pitch count up.”
· Phelps has been working on throwing his slider front-door to right-handers, catching the inside edge of the plate. He’s able to fairly consistently hit that same exact spot back-door against lefties, and he thinks it can be an effective weapon against right-handers as well. “You’re wanting (the right-handed hitter) to buckle on it,” Phelps said. “You want it to be in enough that if he does swing, it’s going to jam him. Especially being in the American League East, you have to pitch guys in. That’s all it really boils down to is just having another pitch I can command on the inner half.”
· Pitching performance of the day? Once again it’s Dellin Betances, who went 1.2 hitless and has now pitched eight scoreless innings this spring. “It’s guys growing up and maturing, getting comfortable with the situation,” Thomson said. “Although (Fred) Lewis had a little trouble today, he’s really pitched well for us this spring. Then you look at (Bryan) Mitchell and (Shane) Greene and Betances, these guys they’re starting to get better and starting to feel comfortable out there. And all those guys have great stuff, so (those are) good signs.”
· Box score notes: To start the first inning, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, so did Brian Roberts, Teixeira singled and eventually scored on a ground ball. After that, the Yankees didn’t have another hit, ultimately losing 7-3 against the Twins. … Ramon Flores drew a walk in his two plate appearances. He’s hitting just .150, but for whatever reason it feels to me like he’s having a good spring. I looked at the box score expecting a much higher average. … Thomson mentioned Fred Lewis, who wasn’t charged with any runs but did allow three hits and a walk through one inning of work. Lewis allowed two of the Banuelos runners to come around and score. … up from minor league camp, James Pazos pitched a hitless inning with one strikeout.
· The Yankees first three batters had hits, then they made 27 outs without another base knock. Interim manager needs to be fire? “I should be,” Thomson said. “If I was the general manager, I would be.”
· Final word goes to Thomson: “It’s a great thing that we’re doing going on Panama, but to have basically four split-squads in a row, it can be tough. And guys still have to get their days off. We have to do what we have to do. It’s exciting for me to see some of these minor league kids come up here and play. I mean, they played great. They hit the ball on the nose and turned a double play and they’re in the right position. Fundamentally, they’re pretty solid.”
Associated Press photos