(Courtesy of the AP)
It's been a slow and steady process for Mark Teixeira as he's worked his way back into playing shape from last year's wrist injury. From basic strengthening exercises to dry swings to batting cage work to full BP to playing in actual ST games, one would hardly call this a "normal" Spring Training for Teix and all along he's said the most important thing is making sure his wrist feels good all the time, no matter how he's swinging. According to what he told Kevin Kernan of The Post on Thursday, he's still not 100% confident that the wrist is completely healed:
“I’m not trusting that the wrist is healthy.
I’m just trying to protect it. Taking your ‘A’ swing, taking that swing that is 100 percent and I need to trust that I can do that and not feel pain. I need to finish my swing instead of protecting my wrist. Last year, to protect my wrist, I didn’t finish my swing."
Teix is batting a meager .086/.289/.114 in 35 PA this spring, with 10 BB and 11 K. His only XBH is a double he hit as a right-handed batter a few weeks ago, so obviously the numbers fit somebody who's admittedly not swinging normally and holding back.
Teix knows his body better than anybody. If he doesn't think his wrist is ready to swing 100% , he shouldn't swing 100%. The problem is that the Yankees can't afford to hold him back in ExST to get more swings because they don't have anybody else to play first base. They also can't afford to have a guy hitting this poorly and holding back on his swing batting cleanup, the position Joe sounds like he's leaning towards batting Teix.
The thing they can least afford is another long injury setback for Teix, and that's another thing that's concerning about his admission. The plan all along has been for Teix to be ready for Opening Day. To say, 3 days away from Opening Day, that he isn't swinging at full strength and hasn't been all spring is hardly the definition of "ready". Once he has to start playing every day, I have serious concerns about the wrist starting to get sore again (like it did in January) and equally serious concerns about Teix hurting himself somewhere else if he's not swinging naturally. Holding back in any kind of small way can cause him to tweak something else in his arm or his body as part of a modified hip rotation or follow through.
At the end of the day, the most important thing for Teix and the Yanks is to have him on the field, and that makes this situation hard to accurately judge. On the one hand, if he's taking steps to ensure that he isn't pushing himself too far and risking additional injury, that's good. On the other, his holding back is seriously affecting his on-field production and could cause greater risk for him injuring himself somewhere else by changing his natural swing mechanics. Sooner or later, he's going to have to let go and trust that the wrist is healed. Here's hoping that comes sooner and feels the way Teix wants it to feel so he can get back to swinging regularly.