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Mark Teixeira on first game: 'Probably the first week of March'

Yankees Mark Teixeira works out with the team

Yankees Mark Teixeira works out with the team at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

TAMPA, Fla. - The progress early in spring training has been steady but slow for Mark Teixeira's right wrist, and that is by design.

"We've planned it out pretty closely," the switch hitter said Saturday after a workout that included 100 swings, 50 from each side. "And unless there's any setbacks, it should work out well."

There have been none of those to this point for Teixeira, and for that the Yankees are grateful. They have no good in-house alternatives should the first baseman, coming off surgery on his right wrist, go down again.

So as players start to look ahead to Tuesday's exhibition opener against Florida State and the Grapefruit League opener against the Pirates a day later, Teixeira remains on his own schedule.

"Probably the first week of March," he said of his expected first game. "Not sure what day. I'll have to do live BP first, where I'm hitting off a pitcher in a simulated-game atmosphere. And if that's good, I can go run out there in a real exhibition game ."

Teixeira said it is all part of the schedule laid out last July after surgery to repair a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist.

"So far, so good," said Teixeira, 33. "I know it's a process and there's still strength to get in there [the wrist], still building up bat speed. But I feel good about how it feels. The swing and the performance will come later."

Teixeira is taking about 100 swings a day -- down from the 120 to 140 a day he would take on a typical spring training day -- with days off built in. He hit Sunday through Tuesday before taking Wednesday off. He started up again Thursday and will hit each day through Sunday before taking Monday off. Then it will be five straight days, then a day off.

"We built in days off because we knew if you did 10 days straight, it would probably get tired and sore, and we don't want that," he said. "So far, so good."

Teixeira said throughout the offseason, and again when he reported to Tampa last Sunday, that there would be lingering tightness in the wrist. His surgeon, Dr. Keith Raskin, told him that is a normal part of recovery.

"You don't want to change your swing because of soreness or pain. You don't want to not be able to do your full repertoire of swings," he said. "I'm up to 100 swings, 50 from each side. That's a lot of swings. That's a good day's work and I'm able to do that. So when I say it feels good, I'm able to do what I've set out to do."

Hitting coach Kevin Long has been keeping a close eye on Teixeira's sessions, and he has said he likes what he sees.

"I just want to see him get through the baseball and impact it the way I know that he can," Long said. "I'm pleasantly surprised where he's at right now."

When he reported here last Sunday, Teixeira said he "absolutely" plans on playing "150-plus" games this season.

But he also acknowledged a long road ahead to make that a reality. Especially after playing 15 games last season.

"I'd be lying if [I said] there wasn't," Teixeira said last Sunday of continuing concerns about the wrist. "I said it this winter; everyone can go out after major surgery and be like, 'Oh, I'm fine' and 'I'm going to be as good as ever.' But you don't really know that until you go out there."


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