Mark Teixeira says Yanks aren't too old to win again

Mark Teixeira doubles in the first inning of Mark Teixeira doubles in the first inning of Game 2 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. (Oct. 14, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Mark Teixeira understands the "they're too old" criticism of the Yankees.

"Let's be honest, the older you get, the tougher it is to stay healthy, the tougher it is to stay productive," Teixeira said. "Guys don't retire because they get bored. Guys retire because they're too old to perform at that high level."

But, the 31-year-old Teixeira quickly pointed out, he's heard that critique since 2009, his first season in the Bronx.

"We've had a, quote, old team, for all four years I've been here and we've won more games than anyone in the American League the last four years," he said. "We're the only American League team to win a World Series, we've been to three LCS. We've had an amazing run for anybody but the Yankees."

And Teixeira, speaking Tuesday at the Stadium as part of a Sports United seminar where he discussed his involvement with Harlem RBI and his Dream Team 25 foundation, gets why many see that as not enough.

"It's not good enough for us, and that's why I love this team," he said. "There's not anybody in our clubhouse that's happy about what's happened the last three years because we didn't win a World Series."

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The groundwork for trying for another one has started and one player linked to the Yankees is a former teammate of Teixeira's.

And while it's a long shot Torii Hunter joins the team -- the Yankees like the outfielder a lot and think he would be a perfect fit but financially he's likely to be out of reach -- Teixeira offered a strong endorsement.

"I love Torii," said Teixeira, teammates for 2½ months with Hunter after being dealt to the Angels in 2008. "Great guy, great player, can do a lot of different things."

Teixeira smiled.

"He doesn't make our team younger," he said of the 37-year-old. "But he makes [our team] a little more balanced. You have a righthanded-hitting outfielder, you have a guy that can steal bases, a guy that has proven his offense, his defense, that he's still a very productive player. He would be a great addition to our team."

Teixeira is coming off the most frustrating season of his career -- though he was one of the few Yankees to hit in the postseason -- in which he hit .251 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs in 123 games, ending an eight-year streak of producing at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

The first baseman's year started with a severe and persistent hacking cough that was finally diagnosed in early June as an infection of his vocal cords. A strained left calf hampered him the final 1½ months of the season, at one point causing him to miss 30 of 31 games.

Teixeira said the cough, while far better, still crops up occasionally and probably won't dissipate until June or so. The calf has all but healed.

"I think I had two healthy months all year, that's disappointing," Teixeira said. "If I was healthy all year, I would have had another 30 [homers] and 100 [RBIs] normal season. But because I missed 30-plus games, I wasn't able to do the things I usually do . . . Every year that I'm healthy I do the same thing, maybe up or down a little bit."

Teixeira created a stir last February by claiming -- mostly in jest, he disclosed later -- he might bunt more to beat the shift frequently employed against him.

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Any off-the-wall plans for this season?

"I'll probably be a 50-50 guy this year," said a smiling Teixeira, whose stolen base in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Orioles led to the Yankees' first run in a 3-1 victory. "After what I did in Game 5, there's nothing that tells me I can't steal 50."

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