(Courtesy of the AP)
We don't know anything about the condition of Mark Teixeira's wrist after he left last night's game early other than the "aggravated" title the team is officially putting on it. Teix hadn't looked good at the plate this week. He was just as big a void in the middle of the batting as major slumpers like Vernon Wells or Travis Hafner, and his early exist last night brought many of our concerns about the health of his right wrist into the realm of reality. He's going to get checked out today by team doctors, but even that does little to inspire hope that the wrist is OK given all the damning evidence surrounding the situation.
First, there's the fact that the team elected to send him back to New York today to have the wrist examined rather than just waiting for the travel off-day tomorrow. Any time you remove a player from a game due to injury and immediately send him home to be looked at, that's a bad sign. With this particular injury and the recent history of how it's played out for other players who've suffered it, that's even worse. From the beginning, the Yankees and Teix knew that there was a less than 100% chance that going the non-surgery route was going to be successful. That Teix came back to full game action after just a handful of rehab games and made it only 2 weeks before being shut down again does not spell a positive diagnosis today.
The quotes from Kevin Long after last night's game didn't make the early exist seem like something precautionary. Long's revelation that Teix hadn't been doing his normal pregame hitting routine paints the picture of a guy playing at significantly less than 100% and his declaration that "I don't know that it's [the wrist] been right since he's been here, honestly" speaks to just how serious the problem with the wrist might be. Long knows his hitters better than anybody. If he can say something like that after just a few weeks back on the field, it's a fair bet that Teix was never truly healthy when he came off the DL.
Then there's what he's done on the field. Things looked pretty good after he hit 3 HR in his first 4 games back, at least one from each side of the plate. But Teix has looked downright awful since those early games, turning into an Adam Dunn-esque TTO machine. 27 of his 63 PA this season have resulted in either a walk or a strikeout and 19 of those outcomes have been strikeouts (30.2% K rate). Breaking down his L/R splits, the results are even worse. Teix is hitting .278/.435/.500 in 23 PA as a right-handed hitter compared to just .086/.175/.257 in 43 PA as a lefty. That's just 3 hits in 35 at-bats and 13 Ks to boot (32.5%). There's little to no power or speed in his left-handed swing, the swing that would be affected more by pain or weakness in his right wrist.
All of that being what it is, the best case we should probably be hoping for today is another trip to the 15-day DL. The worst, and quite frankly more likely, case is that Teix will have to have surgery on the wrist and will miss the rest of the season. It's another blow that the Yankee lineup can ill afford to take right now, but there's little reason to expect that this isn't the way this story ends. The Yanks took a gamble that the rest and rehab would work. After 2 weeks, it looks like they're going to come out on the losing end.
** UDPATE 2:06 PM- Joe told reporters today that an MRI showed only inflammation and no new tear in Teix's injured right wrist, which is much better news than I expected. Teix was given a cortisone shot and will be re-evaluated in a few days. **