- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Coming off the shortest season of his career and right wrist surgery, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is confident he can be the same player he was prior to his July surgery.
"I am," Teixeira said at the Connecticut Sports Foundation's Annual Celebrity Dinner and Memorabilia Auction at Mohegan Sun. "It's two steps. The first step is making sure you're healthy. If I'm not healthy then obviously I won't be the same player. That's why my concentration right now is making I'm sure 100 percent healthy. We'll worry about the swing, we'll worry about 162 game season after I know I'm healthy."
New York Yankees
Teixeira was limited to just 15 games last season as his wrist never fully healed after he tore a tendon sheath on March 5 while preparing for the World Baseball Classic. Teixeira returned to the Yankees on May 31 after missing 53 games and was shut down shortly after. An MRI showed the tendon sheath hadn't healed properly and he underwent surgery July 1.
The first baseman said his wrist is still a little bit tight, but it's not cause for concern. His doctor told him prior to the surgery that his wrist would be tight for up to a year after his surgery. Teixeira doesn't want to push his wrist to the point where he sidelines himself prematurely. He hit just .151 in 53 at-bats last season, but did drive in 12 runs and add three homers.
"It's respecting it," Teixeira said of his injury. "There's plenty of guys that come back from injuries and come back way too fast and get reinjured. That's not in my plans this year."
Teixeira said on WFAN Radio on Friday he's been hitting at Bobby Valentine's batting cage in Stamford, Conn., including hitting off live pitching. He plans to arrive to spring training with pitchers and catchers, and is excited about getting back to work in the next few weeks.
The veteran is anxious to see how his wrist will affect him going forward. He said until he starts playing every day, and accomplishing feats like hitting his first homer, he won't have a true grasp of how it will hold up. Teixeira, 33, believes he will be a big bat in the Yankees' lineup.
"I expect to have a great season this year," Teixeira said on WFAN Radio. "I'm going to respect the injury and not try to be a hero day one of spring training."
The Yankees significantly retooled this offseason, bringing in catcher Brian McCann, outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran,and starter Masahiro Tanaka. Teixeira sees correlations between this team and the 2009 squad that too missed the playoffs the prior year before spending aggressively in free agency. That team won the World Series.
"When I came in '09 we had a lot of question marks," Teixeira told WFAN. "We have guys that things to prove which is fun for me. For me to have something to prove is a lot of fun and we have as much upside as any team in baseball if we stay healthy and perform."