Mark Teixeira: 'I absolutely plan on playing 150-plus games'
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TAMPA, Fla. - Mark Teixeira is prepared for some lingering stiffness in his surgically repaired right wrist this season.
It's all part of the healing process, his doctor told him even before surgery.
But the 33-year-old first baseman said he is healthy and expects to be on the field much of 2014.
"I absolutely plan on playing 150-plus games this year. That's my goal," Teixeira said Sunday morning before taking the field for his first workout of spring training. "Every now and then, I'll have a day off, of course. That's just natural. But I expect to have a healthy, productive season."
Last season was anything but that. While hitting off a tee in Arizona during preparation for the World Baseball Classic, he suffered a torn sheath in the wrist.
He came back May 31 against Boston but was done after leaving a June 15 loss at Anaheim. After he was evaluated in New York, surgery was recommended, and he had it done July 1.
"Before surgery, the surgeon said, 'It's going to get better for a whole year,' " the switch-hitting Teixeira said of Dr. Keith Raskin, who performed the surgery at NYU Hospital. " 'And so, for that first year after major surgery like this, expect it's going to get a little better every day. Swinging every day will actually help loosen it up.' "
Teixeira took grounders Sunday morning, then took a combined 96 swings -- lefthanded and righthanded -- between a tee and facing live pitching. Hitting coach Kevin Long was among the seven coaches who watched closely.
"I just want to see him get through the baseball and impact it the way I know that he can,'' Long said, "and I saw that today, and it was the first day. I wasn't shocked, but I'm pleasantly surprised he's at where he's at right now."
Teixeira said he will tweak his spring regimen -- mostly meaning taking fewer swings than usual -- and doesn't expect to be ready for a Feb. 25 exhibition against Florida State at George Steinbrenner Field. But that will be a byproduct, he said, of taking it slow in the early stages of spring training.
Long said Teixeira typically takes 120 to 140 swings a day at this point, so the decrease is hardly drastic.
"I know I have to be smart about it," Teixeira said.
Teixeira said his "bat path was really good lefthanded," though Long separately said "his lefthanded swing wasn't very good today." Regardless, the two were overwhelmingly encouraged.
Teixeira said his goal is to get "50-plus at-bats" in spring training, which should be more than enough to get ready for the regular season, one in which manager Joe Girardi sees no limitations.
"We don't anticipate him not being a full-season player for us," Girardi said. "I'll have to give him a day off every once in a while, and part of that is he's gotten older, too. He's not 27, 28 years old anymore, but we expect him to be our everyday first baseman."
Teixeira started swinging a bat in early January, the usual time he begins his offseason hitting indoors.
"You can definitely tell I had surgery," he said of what he feels in his wrist.
Again, he stressed, that's to be expected. In the back of his mind, though, there will be worry until he faces a live pitcher throwing 95 mph several days in a row and has no setbacks.
"I'd be lying if [I said] there wasn't," Teixeira said of those enduring concerns. "I said it this winter; everyone can go out after major surgery and be like, 'Oh, I'm fine' and 'I'm going to be as good as ever.' But you don't really know that until you go out there."