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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Mark Teixeira’s injury hurts on so many levels for Yankees

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira returns

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira returns to the dugout after he strikes out looking against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning of an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, April 21, 2016. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

BALTIMORE

Mark Teixeira said it was “maddening” to learn of the articular cartilage tear inside his right knee, the reason why the joint suddenly locked up on him between innings Friday night.

“It just really stinks,” said Teixeira, who was placed on the disabled list before Saturday night’s tense 8-6 win over the Orioles.

Teixeira usually doesn’t provide much of a window into his emotions, but the first baseman looked exasperated.

Personally, the diagnosis was a gut punch to Teixeira. But honestly, the DL probably is the best place for him right now. And it’s not exactly a bad break for the Yankees, either.

Sending out Teixeira on a nightly basis wasn’t working for anyone. At least now he can take some time off, try to heal up and maybe someday reverse the terrible slide of the first two months.

Teixeira said Saturday that the knee issue was something he’d been dealing with for close to three weeks before it finally froze. Also, he told us his previous neck spasms actually had been caused by a bulging disc that still is creating some discomfort.

In short, Teixeira, at age 36, is falling apart. And as dismal as that sounds, there’s got to be a sense of relief, as his declining physical state can be blamed for his otherwise inexplicable numbers.

“Nothing feels good right now,” Teixeira said. “My body just hasn’t worked right this year.”

That’s evident. This banged-up Teixeira has morphed into one of the game’s most feeble hitters. His .535 OPS ranks last among all qualified players — at any position — and his .180 batting average is second from the bottom. Only the Indians’ Yan Gomes (.174) is below him.

Joe Girardi repeatedly has declared his faith in Teixeira, and that his resume makes him believe he’ll turn it around. That’s what managers do. But it had become an illogical argument. And with the Yankees quickly running out of season, there needed to be an intervention. After starting fast by hitting three homers in his first seven games, Teixeira has plummeted after April 13, batting .169 with a .204 slugging percentage, four RBIs and a homerless streak of 159 plate appearances in 41 games.

For a player of Teixeira’s caliber, earning $22.5 million this season, the last of his eight-year, $180-million contract, that’s almost beyond the realm of comprehension. It would be easier to believe “Game of Thrones” is a historical re-enactment.

But that’s the reality both Teixeira and the Yankees have been living for far too long. They were tied to each other, bound by the fading glow of the glory years as well as large sums of cash, and now they get to take a break from the relationship before saying farewell at season’s end. With the fickle nature of cartilage tears and the shaky condition of Teixeira’s knees, there’s a good chance he’s going to wind up requiring surgery anyway.

For now, Teixeira hopes to avoid it, but tomorrow’s appointment with team physician Christopher Ahmad should give him a better read on the future. The Yankees aren’t holding their breath. After they summoned Chris Parmelee from Triple-A Scranton, Girardi gave Rob Refsnyder the first of what is likely to be many starts as Teixeira’s replacement.

Refsnyder rewarded his manager with a run-scoring double in the third inning for his second RBI in eight plate appearances (or as many RBIs as Teixeira had totaled in his last 97).

Teixeira always figured to be a decent trade chip if this season went south. But his lost year not only has wounded the Yankees but sabotaged his trade value.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Teixeira said, “but when I get back, I expect to be the middle-of-the-order player that I’ve always been and I hope I will be.”

After what he already has endured, he can’t be any worse.

New York Sports