TAMPA, Fla. – New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was back on the field taking batting practice on Sunday, hitting outdoors for the first time since last summer’s surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist. Afterwards, he said he was encouraged with his first day back on the field, despite some troubles hitting right-handed.
“My swing path felt a lot better left-handed,” Teixeira told reporters. “I was coming around it too much right-handed, but it’s just something that the first couple of weeks of spring training, I’ll make sure that bat path is good and your bat speed is good. Good first day, though.”
Teixeira indicated that he expects to hit in the middle of the order, hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs this season.
The veteran first baseman made it clear that he felt the Yankees were back to their old selves after a season which saw the team miss the playoffs for just the second time since 1995.
“We're back to being the Yankees again,” said Teixeira. “Last year, we weren't the Yankees.”
Teixeira noted that even without Robinson Cano, who departed New York for a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees are a better team than last year after the additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann to the starting lineup.
“We had so many injuries and we had so many guys that should have been in there to be lots of anchors [in the lineup.] That's back. There is not one guy that has to carry this team.”
Though he may not be the one to carry the team, Teixeira noted that he helps make his team better whenever he is on the field.
"I know when I'm out there and healthy, my team is a better team and that is no different this year," Teixeira told reporters.
The 33-year-old first baseman also spoke of his surprise regarding Wednesday’s announcement that the team’s Captain, Derek Jeter, would retire at the end of the season.
"I was shocked, to be honest with you," Teixeira said. "I thought that Derek had a couple of years left in him. I knew how excited he would be about this season, just the same way I am when you only play 15 or 17 games.
"You just get really excited about playing the next year. I could have seen Derek playing until he is 44, 45. I'm excited that he gets to go out on his own terms and he gets to enjoy that last season and we are going to enjoy it with them."
For his part, Teixeira indicated he plans to play five more seasons. He currently has three years left on his contract with the New York Yankees.