Mark Teixeira had two hits, one of which was a ground ball to the left side against the usual defensive shift. It was effective, but it wasn’t necessarily what Teixeira was trying to do.
“What I’m trying to do is just hit the ball hard right now,” Teixeira said. “You get into trouble when you try to guide the ball places, whether it’s pulling or hitting the other way. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard, and it just happened that Qualls threw a really nice runner and my bat path was pretty good and I got just enough of it to hit it to that side of the field. Hopefully more of those come this year. Just work on that bat path, if a guy does have a good sinker or a good two-seamer away, I’ll find that hole a couple of times.”
“If you keep your bat on a good path — I’m getting kind of technical on you guys — you allow yourself to take balls that are middle away and not hook them,” Teixeira said. “If you hook them into the shift, (you think), ‘Oh yeah, I hit a line drive but I hooked it into the shift.’ Well, if your bat path is good, you can take that same swing and it’s a hard ground ball the other way. Maybe I’ll get a couple of hits that way, but I’m not trying to hit ground balls. I’m not a guy who’s going to make my living out of slapping the ball the other way. … I’m trying to have a good bat path and if the ball happens to go that way, then that’s great.”
With the shift against him, Teixeira said he sees a lot of pitches on the outer half because he got in a habit of hooking those pitches to the right side. He thinks a better path to the ball will help him hit those balls more toward the left side of the field. It’s not necessarily a new approach — he’s still trying to hit balls hard in the air, which means pulling them a lot — but he believes he could go the other way as a result of a better swing.
And last night really was pretty encouraging for his swing.
“Last night I’m up there saying, ‘Take an aggressive swing.’” Teixeira said. “I’ve never had to say that in my career. It’s always been, whatever the thought process is that at-bat: make the ball be up or look for the ball away, whatever it may be. I’ve never had to say, ‘Take an aggressive swing.’ I did that last night and I took some good swings.”
· Hiroki Kuroda makes his first start tonight. Joe Girardi said he expects to treat Kuroda similar to the way Andy Pettitte was used last season. Probably won’t see Kuroda go much over 100 pitches too often this year. “We’ll watch him closely like we have every other year,” Girardi said. “Maybe you start thinking, you get up around the 100 pitch mark, that might be it for him. You’ve got to see how taxing the innings are, if he’s got an extra days’ rest coming, all those sort of things. We’re going to have to watch him.”
· Teixeira said something yesterday about his wrist never being the same. Another moment of Teixeira using a phrase that sounds more significant than it is. He just meant that he’ll have to adjust a little bit, not that he won’t have strength again. “I’m never going to be the way I was out of the womb,” Teixeira explained today. “People are like, you had surgery so now you’re normal. It’s like, no, that’s exactly why you’re not normal. You have to adjust. I’ve had to adjust to an ankle surgery, I’ve had to adjust to a knee surgery. Any time you have a major surgery, you adjust your work habits, your preparation habits. So when I say it’s never going to be normal, I’m going to have to keep those adjustments as a part of my routine going forward.”
· Without a typical experienced right-handed pinch hitter on the bench, Girardi let Kelly Johnson hit against a lefty in a key spot last night. It makes some sense given that Johnson hasn’t been bad against lefties in his career. Girardi did say today, though, that he’s not completely against the idea of pinch hitting Francisco Cervelli in some key at-bats against lefties. It would cost his backup catcher — something Girardi’s been hesitant to do in the past — but he might do it with Cervelli. “I think it’s something you think about, sure,” Girardi said.
· By the way, Girardi said Dean Anna would be his emergency catcher if something happened to both Cervelli and McCann.
· Girardi on bringing the infield in against Altuve last night: “He was hitting some weak ground balls to that side and I thought we might be able to cut the run off with the pitches that CC was making, and it didn’t work.”
· Yesterday, Girardi said he wasn’t entirely sure what Brendan Ryan was doing down in Tampa. He clarified today that Ryan is definitely not doing any baseball drills. “He’s really not doing too much,” Girardi said. “He’s really not doing any baseball activity. It’s more the stretching and sort of rehabbing.”
· First pregame ceremony for Derek Jeter tonight. Kind of different doing a pregame ceremony for a position player rather than a closer. “It’s not a big deal,” Girardi said. “But he might be running his last few sprints at that time, you know? It’s just, you get used to going out at the same time every day, and you’ve got to adjust it a little bit.”
Associated Press photos