- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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ST. PETERSBURG -- Turns out Mark Teixeira's self-imposed May 1 return date was overly optimistic.
So said Teixeira himself before tonight's Yankees-Rays game after reporting he was still feeling stiffness in his right wrist, which was immobilized in a brace for several weeks to help heal a partially-torn tendon sheath.
"That was the first day I could come back," he said. "But it’s probably not going to be May 1, but who knows? It all depends on how quickly it will loosen up. But I'm dry swinging every day, and it is better every day."
Teixeira said he had hoped to have progressed from dry swings -- swings with a bat but no ball -- to hitting off a tee by now, but that the stiffness in his wrist will not permit it yet.
"It’s not loosened up enough for me to be letting it go, so we’re going to keep doing dry swings until it loosens up," he said. "Being immobile for a month, your wrist and your hand really tighten up. It’s stiffness, not pain. I feel very comfortable that I’m healed, that there’s not going be any problems when I come back. But I do have to let it loosen up and really get more functional."
Teixeira's prognosis was for an 8-10 period of rehabilitation, which would have put his return at May 1 at the earliest, and mid-May at the latest. Now Teixeira is saying the latter date is more likely -- provided there are no setbacks in his rehab.
"Obviously, I was being as optimistic as I could," he said. "I wish that the very first time I swung a bat, I would have felt 100 percent, but the chances of that happening weren’t there."
Joe Girardi said he was not surprised that Teixeira's recovery was taking longer than his first baseman expected it to.
“"I'’ve said all along, this is probably the most unpredictable injury we've had," Girardi said. "Wrists are really tricky. If you'’re in basically a cast for four or five weeks, you'’re not going to come out and just start. It’'s going to take time. You have to rebuild that strength. You have to get that range of motion, that flexibility. You go day by day, week by week and you see how he'’s doing. Eventually, if you can get him in games you have a much better idea.”"
In Teixeira's absence, Lyle Overbay has played most of the games at first base, with Kevin Youkilis, now himself injured with lower back soreness, taking over occasionally against left-handed pitching.
QUESTION: When do you expect to see Mark Teixeira back in the Yankees lineup?