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Mark Teixeira's problem: Damaged vocal cords

Yankees' Mark Teixeira reacts after striking out swinging

Yankees' Mark Teixeira reacts after striking out swinging during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. (June 7, 2012) Credit: AP

For Mark Teixeira, it was mystery solved. Finally.

The first baseman, bedeviled by a persistent hacking cough since the second week of April, visited an ear, nose and throat specialist Thursday at Columbia Presbyterian. The doctor performed an endoscopy — which entails putting a camera down the esophagus — and said he has damaged vocal cords.

“She found nerve damage to my vocal cords, caused by the initial illness two months ago,” Teixeira said.

In other words, the specialist said, some of his more severe coughing fits triggered the damage. “That’s why all of my blood tests were clear, that’s why my chest X-rays were clear,” said Teixeira, who had seen several doctors, including a chest specialist in mid-May who diagnosed him with “inflamed bronchial airways” and prescribed the non-anabolic steroid Prednisone, which had little impact.

“When you have damaged vocal cords,” Teixeira said the ear, nose and throat specialist told him, “you’re always having a cough-gag reflex. So it’s actually really good news for me because we think we’ve found the reason for all this. She gave me some medicine that will hopefully calm the nerve down. It kind of puts my mind at ease.”

After he received two games off May 18 and 19, Teixeira’s cough seemed to improve. But he said it was not a dramatic change, the reason for seeing the specialist Thursday.

“It’s still there. My voice isn’t where it needs to be,” he said. “I can’t yell out on the field, and as a first baseman, communicating with your pitcher, communicating with your catcher ... You want to be able to yell, use your voice.”

He later added: “You’re always playing through something, but two months with a really bad cough, that’s just not normal. I’m really glad I got to figure out what’s going on.”

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