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Healthy Mark Teixeira has a shift-beating plan this season

Mark Teixeira reacts after hitting a sacrifice fly

Mark Teixeira reacts after hitting a sacrifice fly that scored Brett Gardner in the sixth inning of a game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. (June 12, 2013) Credit: Getty

TAMPA, Fla. - Mark Teixeira's strategy this season for dealing with the shift that has beguiled him and plenty of others in recent years is simple.

"Hit more home runs, hit more doubles and walk more," Teixeira said on Wednesday after reporting to Yankees camp.

In other words, the switch-hitting first baseman said, there will be no radical changes in his approach when he's faced with the shift batting lefthanded.

"We've talked about it ad nauseam," he said. "Every time I try to slap the ball the other way, it just doesn't go well for anybody. And that's what the other team wants. They want to take the middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter. So if I can hit more home runs, more doubles, walk more, that takes care of the shift."

That is easier said than executed.

Joe Girardi said minor adjustments can be made in how players attack the shift, a focus of this camp.

"The adjustments that you talk about with hitters is, you're not asking a guy to revamp his swing, you can't do that," Girardi said. "But there are other little things that you can do to . . . and we'll talk about those."

For his part, Teixeira, who has had a nightmare physically the last two seasons, said he's never been in better shape to execute.

The 34-year-old, who hit .216 with a .313 on-base percentage, 22 homers and 62 RBIs in 123 games last season as he dealt with a series of nagging injuries, reported on Wednesday having added 13 pounds, mostly muscle. He completely changed his diet -- "the no-fun diet, no gluten, no dairy, no sugar," he said -- and hired a new trainer.

"We really attacked all of the issues I've been having," he said. "I got myself really strong. I was weaker than I've probably ever been in my entire career last year because of the [wrist] injury the year before, not being able to work out like I usually do . . . I feel like a kid again."

Far from how he felt a year ago.

"Last year I came into spring training hoping to have a good year because I really didn't know where I was," Teixeira said. "I knew I wasn't feeling great, knew I wasn't 100 percent. This year I expect to have a great year."

Again reflecting on 2014, he said: "Last season was really, really difficult, physically and mentally. I felt like garbage all year, basically. When you're feeling like that and trying to perform, you just get beaten down and you wonder, am I ever going to be the same?"

The "same" for many years for Teixeira was the 30-homer, 100-RBI mark, which he has reached eight times.

"I feel like I did a few years ago when I was hitting 30-plus homers and driving in 100 RBIs and playing almost every single day," Teixeira said. "That's what I plan to do this year."

General manager Brian Cashman has said he believes veterans such as Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Teixeira will have bounce-back years.

"We have the talent in here," Teixeira said. "There's a lot of teams that would love to have our roster right now. It takes talent, it takes health, it takes execution. We have the talent. The health and execution are the things we're going to work on this year."

The Yankees are a team, Teixeira said, that can do big things, despite the low expectations set by others.

"That should fuel us," he said. "I want us to be healthy because if we're healthy we can win a World Series this year."

New York Sports