Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees looks on...

Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees looks on from first base against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (June 8, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Figuratively watching through fingers spread over their eyes, the cringing Yankees saw home run and RBI leader Mark Teixeira peeled off home plate Tuesday night, possibly staring at a long-term absence.

Yet, by mid-afternoon Wednesday, a chipper Teixeira had enough bounce in his step to spend an hour inside a baking Yankee Stadium to film what he expected to be a 20-second scene for the HBO television series "Entourage."

Boston starter Jon Lester's 90-mile-per-hour fastball that collapsed Teixeira in pain - "Broken kneecap,'' manager Joe Girardi feared -- resulted in nothing worse than a contusion of Teixeira's right knee. By 10 a.m. Wednesday, Teixeira was feeling so good that he texted Girardi and assistant trainer Steve Donohue to say, "I'm ready to go. Count me in.''

Wednesday night, he was back at first base, a regular Lou Gehrig feat of iron, and drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly and a single.

"Pleasantly surprised,'' Girardi said of Teixeira's mere presence on the field. "Really surprised.''

The news was such a relief that good-natured historical references were circulating in the Yankees clubhouse. "Every time you get hurt or miss a few innings or a few days,'' Teixeira said, "the Wally Pipp stories fly, right away.''

Teixeira, of course, hails from Baltimore, where Cal Ripken made himself the improved version of Gehrig, Pipp's famous understudy, by playing in a record 2,632 consecutive games.

"I didn't respect Cal's streak until I started playing,'' Teixeira said. "Everyone says, 'Oh, 2,600; that's amazing.' You really don't understand it until you play the game. I can't believe he did it.

"I played over 500 games in a row early in my career and I can't believe it. You're always going to get nicks, you're always going to get hit by a pitch, whatever it may be, so I want to play as much as I can."

He was not aware, he said, that Jorge Posada -- who took Teixeira's place at first base Tuesday and went 3-for-3 -- was unavailable because his 11-year-old son was undergoing a ninth operation to correct a birth defect. Teixeira said he made himself available to play simply because he could.

"I woke up this morning -- I didn't sleep great -- but as soon as I started moving around, no problems,'' he said. "It's bruised. But it's remarkably better.''

Leaving the Yankees, suffering enough with their 1-7 record against Boston, remarkably comforted.

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