The biggest challenge with a calf injury is running. It gets particularly tricky a few days after a minor injury when an athlete starts to feel better walking around, fielding and hitting. But the big test is explosive running. Generally, the signature move is driving out of the batter's box on the way to first, not surprisingly where [he] suffered the injury in the first place. The muscle contracts hard to advance the weight of the body when pushing off to run, particularly during the first few steps of sprinting. The concern, naturally, is having a minor injury become something bigger.
And now the minor injury has become something bigger. New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who initially strained his left calf muscle on Aug. 28, aggravated it his first night back in the lineup and is expected out for at least another 10-14 days.
The introductory paragraph was not written at the time of Teixeira's original injury, although it easily could have been. No, that paragraph was excerpted from a blog post in June 2011 about Teixeira's teammate, shortstop Derek Jeter. Jeter, like Teixeira, injured his calf coming out of the batter's box, and Jeter also suffered what was termed a grade one, or minor, strain. Jeter's injury happened in midseason, however, and a stint on the DL, albeit a reluctant one on Jeter's part, ensured he would be out for at least two weeks. In fact, he missed three.
Teixeira's injury came just as the Yankees found themselves entering the final month of the regular season in a division title race. Teixeira had expressed frustration with the timing of the forced absence as much as with the injury itself. As he felt the calf improving, he was eager to rejoin the lineup and contribute. In what might be considered a bit of a foreboding note, Teixeira acknowledged after first testing his leg running the bases during rehab that he was not yet 100 percent. As he told the New York Post, "game speed and practice speed is a little different anyway. It's really tough to ever fully go out practicing." Precisely.
When Teixiera had to go at game speed, he didn't have quite what he needed in his leg. On what turned out to be a game-ending double play in his first game since the initial injury, Teixeira hurt the calf trying to beat out the throw to first base. It was hard to know whether Teixeira was more upset by the way the game ended or by the aggravation of the injury, but he made it clear his leg was not cooperating. According to ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand, Teixeira said he was not "even close" to 100 percent. He underwent an MRI on Monday and consulted with the Yankees' team doctor, Chris Ahmad. The Yankees are calling Teixeira's injury a grade one (minor) strain, but given that he has already suffered one setback after 10 days' rest, his return may be slowed. If the Yankees are in the postseason mix, they will need a healthy Teixeira who can run full speed and round the bases without hesitation. And a second setback could potentially eliminate his availability for the entire year.
In other words, it would not be surprising if Teixeira remains out the rest of September. The Yankees hope they will all be playing together in October.