CHICAGO — At a different time and different place in his career, there was little chance Mark Teixeira would accept a day off after a two-homer game.
Not without an argument of some kind.
But that was the situation the first baseman found himself in Monday afternoon, on the bench in Chicago after homering twice the afternoon before in San Diego.
And Teixeira, realistic about his body at the age of 36, was just fine with that.
“My health is way more important,” said Teixeira, back in the lineup Tuesday night against the White Sox and batting cleanup. “I’ve been battling my health all year. I’d much rather take a day off once a week than not be able to play.”
Teixeira spent June 4-25 on the DL with a right knee articular cartilage tear. Since returning, Teixeira, entering Tuesday night, was 8-for-31 with four homers and five RBIs in eight games, including Sunday’s in San Diego when he blasted two homers that gave him 401 in his career. Teixeira hit three homers with 12 RBIs in 167 at-bats (48 games) before being put on the DL.
“It’s something that when we decided not to do surgery, it was something that we talked about from the get-go,” Teixeira said of strategic days off. “That we can’t push it because surgery could happen.”
Teixeira said those days off aren’t mapped out too far in advance, though Monday’s was, given the schedule. The Yankees had an afternoon game in San Diego Sunday and, after flying two times zones East, had a day game Monday in Chicago, arriving at their hotel here just after 1 a.m.
“[Monday] was a brutal schedule day, so [Monday] was kind of an obvious time to take off,” Teixeira said. “But we haven’t really planned it ahead of time because so many things can happen. Other guys can get hurt, they [the opponent] changes the starting pitcher or whatever. There’s lot of things that can happen.”
Teixeira has a long way to go to make this season, likely his last with the Yankees as this is the final year of an eight-year, $180-million deal, a successful one. He, after all, came into Tuesday with a .192/.276/.323 slash line, with seven homers and 17 RBIs.
But, despite a body that still needs plenty of maintenance, including both knees, Teixeira feels the best he’s felt all year.
Sunday’s home runs, coming in back-to-back innings from the left side of the plate, validated that.
“It feels good because since I’ve come back from the DL, I’ve felt a lot better,” he said. “Hopefully that continues because the first part of the season was obviously very difficult. And hopefully that’s all behind me.”
With Carlos Beltran ready to play the field after not being able for nearly a week because of tightness in his right hamstring, that brought Alex Rodriguez back into the lineup as the designated hitter.
Beltran batted second, A-Rod third and Teixeira fourth. Beltran has been terrific all season — a .296/.337/.567 slash line, with a team-best 19 homers and 53 RBI coming into Tuesday — but Rodriguez and Teixeira have had their issues.
Joe Girardi said he feels maybe, possibly, finally, the middle of the order is ready to provide some consistency.
“It looks like Tex is starting to swing [better] too and that would mean a lot,” Girardi said. “You start getting the big guys in the middle going, you’re going to score a lot more runs.”