Mark Teixeira is interviewed on camera. Teixeira was honored as...

Mark Teixeira is interviewed on camera. Teixeira was honored as Sportsman of the Year by the March of Dimes New York Division at its 28th Annual Sports Luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. (Nov. 30, 2011) Credit: Jeremy Bales

For Mark Teixeira, the already must-see games between the Yankees and Red Sox become even more so with Bobby Valentine in the mix.

"I think it's great," Teixeira said Wednesday at the Waldorf-Astoria before the Annual Sports Luncheon where he was among the honorees. "This rivalry's great for baseball, I've said it a million times. It's great for both cities but baseball as a whole, it seems like everybody stops to watch those 18 games. Bobby Valentine is a great manager. He's a funny guy and he's got a great personality. I think that the interviews before and after the game are going to be a little more interesting and that will be good for both teams."

Teixeira, who lives in Connecticut, has gotten to know Valentine, expected to be formally announced as the Red Sox's next manager soon, the past couple of offseasons, from hitting at the Bobby Valentine Sports Academy in Stamford.

"I was joking on Twitter and Facebook that I don't know if he's going to let me hit at his facility anymore," Teixeira said. "I've been hitting there for two years now at Bobby V's academy. He's there a lot and we'll talk about hitting, we'll talk about baseball. I don't know if those conversations are going to [continue] now."

Teixeira said he's been running and lifting weights for "a couple weeks now," and will start his cage-intensive work Jan. 1.

The first baseman tweaked his offseason work last year -- primarily meaning more hitting -- in order to get off to a faster start. He said this offseason's goal is to improve on his performance from the left side of the plate.

Teixeira hit .248 -- with a .341 on-base percentage -- with 39 homers and 111 RBIs. But the switch hitter's splits were striking: He hit .224 with a .325 OBP as a lefty and .302 with a .380 OBP as a righty.

"I'm going to do the same things but focus more on left-handed, using the whole field," Teixeira said. "I looked at everything at the end of the season, I went through my entire season . . . I need to hit more singles lefthanded, that's just the fact of the matter. Right-handed I felt I had a great year, power-wise I felt I had a great year, but my average was very disappointing. Being able to hit the ball the other way a little bit more, use the whole field, take the shift away, is really going to help me out."

Teixeira, dressed in a dark pinstriped suit, appeared trimmer than he did when the season ended. He said he has lost 10 pounds, down to 216, all of it by design and at the suggestion of the team's director of strength and conditioning, Long Island native Dana Cavalea.

"I feel really, really good," Teixeira, 31, said. "Our strength coach is great and he says every year older you get, you should drop a pound or two just because the older you get you don't want to be gaining weight. You don't want to be fighting against yourself, you want to be losing weight and getting stronger."

As for the new CBA announced last week, Teixeira, long outspoken about ridding the sport of performance-enhancing drugs, was pleased to see HGH testing included.

"It's very important to me," he said. "I've been one of the biggest advocates of drug testing. There's no place for steroids in baseball and anything that we can do to take away another drug, we need to have that test. I'm all for making sure that our sport is completely clean. Hopefully this is another step in the right direction."

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