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Teixeira sets bar high, expects Yankees to repeat

TAMPA, Fla. - Mark Teixeira sees no reason why the Yankees shouldn't be considered favorites to repeat in 2010.

"Yeah, we have to feel that way every single season," Teixeira said Tuesday, reporting day for Yankees position players. "We feel like we're just as capable of defending our championship as we were winning it last year. We have a great team. The core group of guys are back and hopefully, we all get a little bit better this year."

While staying just as motivated.

Asked why complacency won't be an issue here the way it can be for many defending champions, Teixeira was blunt.

"Because we're the Yankees," he said. "You get complacent, it's going to be a tough year for you. I think once you taste that championship, it just makes you want it even more because you realize it's everything you've ever hoped for."

He was equally direct about what he believed was the toughest challenge of 2009.

"It's going to be a tough division again," Teixeira said. "I thought the most difficult thing we did last year was winning the division. That was just a 162-game grind against some really good competition. It's not easy to win the AL East."

After a brutal start to his career in pinstripes - he was hitting .191 on May 12 - Teixeira rebounded to hit .292 with a league-leading 122 RBIs and 39 homers, tied for the AL lead. He was second in MVP voting to the Twins' Joe Mauer.

He has high expectations for himself once again, and manager Joe Girardi thinks Teixeira can be even better.

"I think he has a better understanding of what to expect on a daily basis here, and to me that's always going to help a player," Girardi said. "He was a huge part of our everyday lineup last year and he did a great job, and I've always thought no matter who you are, you can always improve."

The same could be said of the Yankees, who will try to repeat without Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who were key cogs last year.

"It's tough because that's baseball," Teixeira said. "Every year, there's a different group of guys. I've been on my share of teams the last couple years, and so I know how it is changing teams, and that's a part of the game. The guys we brought in are going to do just as good a job as the guys that left, so I don't think we're going to skip a beat."

New York Sports