Last time the Yankees were at Angel Stadium, Mark Teixeira made it two games into a three-game series. In the fourth inning of Game 2, the Yankees took the field for defense, and Teixiera was nowhere to be found.
Pulled from first base and sent for an MRI, it was the last game Teixiera would play all year.
“He just came to us after the at-bat and said there’s not a lot of strength there,” manager Joe Girardi said that day. “It’s the first time he’s came to use really and said (anything). I think he just doesn’t feel that he has the whip that he normal has hitting left handed. We’ll see what it is. … I’ve always said that wrist is tricky.”
Tonight the Yankees return to Anaheim with Teixeira expected to be back at first base and back in the middle of the order. For the last two weeks or so, he’s certainly been back to driving the ball, including four home runs in his past six games, and five home runs in his past nine. Hit tracker lists one of those home runs — the one at Fenway — as a “just enough” home run. After last year’s surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, Teixeira seems to have the strength and “whip” that he so clearly lacked last season.
“It’s a very good sign,” Teixeira said. “I really didn’t know what to expect in the beginning of the season. End of spring training, I didn’t necessarily feel great, so to get some results now, it’s a good sign.”
As we’ve said many times, Teixeira doesn’t have to be the MVP-type all-around hitter that he was five years ago to be a productive force in the middle of the lineup. He does, however, have to hit for power. It’s not enough for him to be simply a patient hitter. The Yankees need Teixeira to be a power hitter. Teixeira hurt himself last spring, sat out basically two months, and returned to played just 15 games. At one point he hit three home runs in four days, but that was it. In his final eight games, Teixeira had one extra-base hit and a .097 average.
“I think there was a huge difference even though he thought he would maybe get through it,” Girardi said. “I don’t think it was ever completely healthy, even though it felt good. It probably was never at full strength.”
Even now, Teixeira says he doesn’t feel 100 percent the way he did before surgery — “Not yet, but it’s getting there,” he said — but the Yankees seem to have a different player than the one who couldn’t make it through a weekend series here in Anaheim a year ago. Even if he’s not all the way back, Teixeira seems to have regained some of that strength that he so clearly needs.
“I never doubted him,” Girardi said. “I said all along I thought he was a guy could be 30 (home runs), 100 (RBI) for us. Part for Tex was getting through spring training and knowing in his mind, and also physically, that he could let it go. When I saw him let it go the last week left handed, it made me feel a lot more comfortable about what type of hitter he would be when he came back for us.”
Associated Press photo