No town puts more pressure on its ballplayers than New York City. Few players put more pressure on themselves than Mark Teixeira.
The New York Yankees first baseman is only 21 games into his career wearing pinstripes, but so far things have not gone as expected. Teixeira is hitting just .182 with three home runs and 10 RBI. Only Cody Ransom has a worst average (.280) on the team and he’s a part-timer.
“Personally, I’m not happy with the way I’m playing at all,” Teixeira said standing at his locker on Friday.
The 29-year-old hasn’t caught any breaks, including on Opening Day. The Yankees kicked off the season on the road against the Baltimore Orioles, Teixeira’s hometown team. For years, Oriole fans had hoped Teixeira would join their club. But, when he hit the free agent market, Baltimore didn’t offer enough money. From the moment Teixeira’s name was announced at Camden Yards, he was booed. Not by just a few folks, but thousands of them.
Despite Teixeira’s struggles, the Yankees have managed to play decent baseball throughout the first month of the season. They’re 13-11 and sitting behind the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East – not good by Yankee standards.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries and a few things didn’t go our way, but to be (13-11), playing so many games on the road, we’ve got to feel good about ourselves,” Teixeira, who signed a 8 year, $180 million contract this off-season, said.
The Yankees are built around big bats. So if Teixeira struggles, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter or Nick Swisher can step up. That’s a luxury not many teams can afford.
“This is such a great team. I’m surrounded by great hitters,” Teixeira said. “If I’m not doing my job, a lot of guys are going to pick me up and so far they have.”
So the work begins, and there’s lots of it for Teixeira. He’s working on getting back to being the guy who hit .308 with 33 home runs, 121 RBI and 102 runs scored for the Anaheim Angels and Atlanta Braves last season.
“Everything,” Teixeira answered when asked what he needs to fix the most. “Just got to keep making sure I’m swinging at good pitches, and the pitches that I do hit, make sure I’m hitting them hard. Just got to keep working.”