BALTIMORE — Greg Bird’s shoulder injury and subsequent surgery tortures the Yankees still.
When the first-base prospect, who performed well in 2015 during his major-league debut, was declared out for the season Feb. 1, the Yankees lost their primary insurance policy in the event of a long-term injury to Mark Teixeira.
That eventuality may have arrived Saturday morning when Teixeira was placed on the disabled list with an articular cartilage tear in his right knee.
General manager Brian Cashman said by phone Saturday that Teixeira will be down for an “indeterminate” amount of time. He added that as of now, surgery isn’t a given but certainly is a possibility.
“We’re going to treat conservatively,” Cashman said, adding that Teixeira has not yet been examined by the team doctor, which will occur Monday in New York. “With rest and rehab and conservative treatments, hopefully that will assist in getting him back. But if that fails, more than likely you’re looking at a surgical procedure.”
The oft-injured Teixeira, 36, left Friday night’s 6-5 loss to the Orioles in the third inning after feeling the knee “lock up.” An MRI taken late Friday night showed the tear.
“Nothing feels good right now,” said Teixeira, who has been dealing with a bulging disc in his neck that has required several cortisone shots and has experienced pain in the knee for the last 2 ½ weeks. “My body just hasn’t worked right this year. It’s so frustrating because I do everything I’m supposed to do and I worked my tail off this offseason after breaking my leg [in August 2015], and my body just hasn’t worked.”
Dustin Ackley, who had been Teixeira’s backup much of the first two months of the season, underwent season-ending surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
With Teixeira down, that left backup catcher Austin Romine and Rob Refsnyder, who made his major-league debut at first on Friday night, as the primary first-base options. “Our depth [at first base] has been obliterated by injuries,” Cashman said.
The Yankees brought up first baseman Chris Parmelee from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
Refsnyder (4-for-13) got his first career start at first base Saturday night. “I like the way he’s swinging the bat. Let’s see what he can do,” Joe Girardi said. “That doesn’t mean I won’t start Parm some games.”
The lefthanded-hitting Parmelee, who has played 139 career games at first base in stints with the Twins and Orioles, had a .252/.343/.444 slash line for an above-average .787 OPS in 43 games with Scranton.
“We tell everyone down there, ‘Put yourself in position to be called if need arises,’ ” Cashman said. “The need arose and Parmelee got the call.”
The Yankees also have 35-year-old Nick Swisher at Scranton, but the reports have not been good — neither at the plate, where he has stalled after a fast start, nor in the field, where he hasn’t moved well. That’s not a surprise in that both of Swisher’s knees have been surgically repaired in recent years.
Swisher has a .242/.258/.356 slash line with Scranton. His on-base percentage, a strength throughout most of his big-league career, is what stands out the most. “There’s just nothing left in the legs,” said one opposing team minor-league scout who covers the Yankees’ system.
It is fair to speculate just how much Teixeira, in the final year of an eight-year, $180-million deal, has left, period.
He still is well above average in the field but never got it going at the plate this season, producing a .180/.271/.263 slash line with three homers and 12 RBIs in 167 at-bats. Beginning April 14, he has zero homers and four RBIs in his last 142 at-bats.
The switch hitter, once among the game’s most durable players but limited to an average of 83 games a season the previous three years because of an array of injuries, posted a .159/.216/.207 slash line in May, driving in two runs in 23 games in the month.
Teixeira, who earlier said he’s been dealing with arthritis in both knees in recent seasons, utilized some gallows humor when asked about his spring training declaration of wanting to play five more years.
He would take, he said wearily, “five more games right now.”