Is the Hall of Fame in Tex's future?
March, 5, 2014
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com
Brian Blanco/Getty ImagesWith the old guard gone or set to retire, more will be expected from Mark Teixeira.TAMPA, Fla. -- Two years ago, Mark Teixeira was on a Hall of Fame trajectory. In the history of Major League Baseball, Teixeira, Jimmie Foxx and Albert Pujols are the only first basemen to put up eight 30-100 seasons before their 32nd birthday.
Teixeira failed to add another 30-100 season in 2013 because a year ago today -- Wednesday, March 5 -- his wrist gave out, limiting him to 15 games.
On Thursday, Tex is scheduled to make his exhibition debut against the Phillies. A month from now, he will try to rejuvenate his Hall of Fame status and his Yankees legacy.
Even with his 2009 ring, his homers and his glove, it is hard to define Teixeira's Yankees legacy. He seems well-liked by fans, but not as beloved as a Don Mattingly or a Tino Martinez.
While neither Mattingly nor Martinez is likely to ever reach the Hall, Teixeira -- with his All-Star bat and his five Gold Gloves -- could conceivably make it to Cooperstown.
"I want to get back to where I was and that's being a 30 and 100 guy every year," Teixeira said during a long conversation about his wrist and his future. "If I can do that for the next three to five years, then we will have that conversation [about the Hall of Fame] someday. But not right now."
Teixeira -- who has three seasons left, including this one, on his eight-year, $180 million contract -- is more concerned with his Yankees legacy.
It's not that Teixeira obsesses over how he will be remembered. He just loves the pomp and pinstripes that go along with being a Yankee. He thinks about Old Timers' Day in the future and being remembered like the Yogis, Reggies and Jeters.
"No matter what happens, I'll always be a Yankee," Teixeira said.
But as he reaches his mid-30s, the Yankees' universe is shifting around him. Teixeira is like the former hot-shot freshman who used to blend in with the varsity, but now is in his junior and senior season and is expected to be more of a leader.
The blanket of public pressure that was on Alex Rodriguez is gone this season and maybe forever. Robinson Cano is in Seattle. Derek Jeter is headed toward retirement.
And despite the Bombers' new free-agent acquisitions, the spotlight could turn to Teixeira. Whatever happens will define who he is as a Yankee.
Missing most of last season helped Teixeira appreciate the game more. He has a renewed vigor for the grind of spring training. He is as accommodating as ever, greeting everyone he sees by name.
He will already go down as a very good player. But if he can pick up close to where he left off before the injury, he may wear a Yankees hat into the Hall of Fame.
“It is embarrassing to even talk about,” Teixeira said of Cooperstown. “I still have a long way to go and if you start thinking too far ahead in time this game gets really tough every day.”