CINCINNATI -- Mark Teixeira has called this, his third All-Star appearance, the most satisfying of his career.

The first baseman, along with Alex Rodriguez, qualify as the biggest surprises of the Yankees' first half, one in which the Bombers went 48-40, good enough for a 3 ½ game lead in the AL East.

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Teixeira is as big a reason for that as anyone, entering the break with a .240/.350/.526 slash line. He leads the Yankees with 22 homers and the American League with 62 RBI.

"The health is No. 1, the health is probably 90 percent of it," Teixeira said Monday.

He entered the season with just as many questions as A-Rod. The first baseman would turn 35 in April but, most significant, had not experienced a healthy season since 2011.

Nagging injuries limited him to 123 games in 2012 and right wrist surgery cost him all but 15 games in 2013. Last year brought more nagging injuries, as well as lingering effects from the surgery, conspiring to limit Teixeira to 123 games. He did manage to hit 22 homers last season but hit .216 with a .313 on-base percentage.

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"Once the health was there, it took April for me to get settled into the season and realize, 'you know what?' " Teixeira said. "The swing's feeling good and I'm doing the things I used to be able to do."