Mark Teixeira is not reporting to spring training this month, and will not miss it. More to the point, his body won’t.
“It’s feeling better, but if I had to go to spring training in two weeks, I couldn’t do it,” the former Yankees first baseman said on Tuesday. “There’s a reason I retired.”
Teixeira, 36, left baseball after 14 seasons in the major leagues — eight with the Yankees — because his body simply wore down and out. But he already has found a way to stay in the game.
ESPN announced on Tuesday he would join the network as a television studio and radio analyst.
Teixeira said he had spoken to television outlets over the last few years of his career about making that transition, and he knew that living in the New York area full time would afford him multiple options. So, Bristol, Connecticut, it was.
The 60 or so appearances he is to make will be an interesting challenge for him. As a player, reporters regarded him as an intelligent and sometimes insightful quote, but hardly one prone to controversy or bold statements.
Can he make that switch in this new, more opinionated role?
“I’m actually excited to be able to do that,” he said. “As a teammate you kind of have to hold your tongue with a lot of things that happen on the field. You’re taught as a teammate to protect the team and everybody involved. You have to be very kind of careful with everything that you say.
“As an analyst you’re not working for a team. You’re working for the network that’s telling fans what just happened or why it happened. I think it’s a different situation.”
The most different situation of all will be critiquing Yankees with whom he played as recently as last autumn.
Teixeira said he did not believe that would be an issue, “as long as what I’m saying is thought through. I’m definitely not someone who’s going to take some cheap shots. But if they’re playing poorly, I will say so. If they’re playing great, I’m not going to be a homer or a fan of the Yankees . . . I think it’s pretty simple.”
Teixeira has a recent role model in former teammate Alex Rodriguez, who left the Yankees last summer and for the past two seasons has gotten rave reviews as a Fox studio analyst.
“Everyone has their own style, but Alex is one of the most intelligent minds that’s out there,” Teixeira said. “He loves the game, watches the game and knows the game as well as anyone. He’s a well-spoken guy who’s comfortable in front of the camera.”
As for the 2017 Yankees, Teixeira acknowledged most observers have them pegged as an “average” team, but he said they have the potential to be more than that.
“A lot will depend on their young guys, both on offense and on the pitching staff,” he said, “but they have a chance to surprise people.”
He said the starting pitching staff’s prospects will depend on its health, and on some of the younger arms rising quickly.
But none of that is Teixeira’s problem now. He is an outside observer, like the rest of us.
Asked how retirement has been going, he said he has enjoyed spending time with his family and not working out — or stressing out about getting ready for the trip to Florida.
“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s been everything that I expected it to be.”
ESPN said Teixeira had signed a multi-year agreement during which he will contribute to baseball studio shows, “SportsCenter” and other ESPN platforms, including ESPN Radio.