- Jim Caple, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wanted: an American first baseman. If interested, please contact United States manager Joe Torre or general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. And get those résumés in soon. The U.S. plays its first World Baseball Classic game Friday.
The U.S. lost starting first baseman Mark Teixeira on Tuesday afternoon when the New York Yankee strained a tendon in his right forearm before the U.S.'s first exhibition game, against the Chicago White Sox. Torre said Teixeira strained the tendon while hitting off a tee in the batting cage.
"He took about three or four light swings as he was starting to get loose and he felt something in here," Torre said, pointing to the upper wrist area. "I asked him if there had been any indication of it before, and he said, 'No, nothing.' He never had this before. He was just shaking his head."
An MRI revealed the strained tendon, which is expected to keep Teixeira out for a week to 10 days. He will fly back to New York to see the Yankees' doctors, then go to Tampa, Fla. Team USA has until Friday to find a substitute. Torre said he talked about possible replacements with his coaching staff during Tuesday's game and would begin contacting them Tuesday evening.
The U.S. was not formed as an all-star team with several stars at each position. The plus side of that approach is you don't have too many egos in the dugout or players miffed about sitting on the bench. The downside is that an injury forces you to seek a top-level replacement.
That could be an issue. Several players at various positions turned down offers this winter to play in the WBC for a variety of reasons. They might be even less willing to play now, several weeks into spring training, or because they are playing in Florida and Team USA's first-round games are in Arizona.
"This is the all-volunteer army. We can't make anyone play if they don't want to play," Garagiola said. "We have the names of people who have expressed interest in the past, so we have that to go on. But we're not limited to that, either."
Torre declined to name possible replacements but acknowledged that Paul Konerko is an option, although the White Sox first baseman bats right-handed and the U.S. could use a lefty.
"Right now, we're just taking names of first basemen, and he got three hits against us today, so that certainly is a consideration," Torre said. "Tex is a switch-hitter, which was ideal for us. Left-handed-wise, we have a couple switch-hitters and Joe Mauer, so we're kind of lopsided there. So we'll try to figure out what the best bet will be for us."
While players who participated in past WBCs have had few injuries, there still is a concern that playing in the tournament is a risk teams and players don't want to take. Torre said he told general managers, "My goal is to get the guys back to you in the same shape we got them, but I can't guarantee anything because things happen. This certainly was a surprise to all of us, including Tex.
"It wasn't anything he wouldn't have been doing in spring training. It wasn't anyone pitching to him. It was just a freak thing."
As to whether Teixeria's injury will fuel concerns about the WBC?
"If they want to find something wrong, they can use that, but this certainly had nothing to do with the WBC," Torre said. "I certainly feel bad for Tex, but it was one of those things that just seemed unavoidable. I guess it would have happened anywhere. I'm sad it happened here. I'm sad it happened at all."
"It sucks to see someone get hurt like that," USA and Rangers pitcher Derek Holland said. "I know he's not on my team [in the regular season], but you never want to see anyone get hurt."
Team USA must conduct an 11th-hour search for a first baseman to replace Mark Teixeira, who dropped out of the WBC on Tuesday because of an injury.