Mark Teixeira needs to be the player he was in 2015 if the Yankees are to make a run in 2016.
Teixeira put up big numbers last season, with 31 home runs and 79 RBI before he went down for the year in August with a knew injury.
This season has not gone as planned for Teixeira, as he is hitting just .192 with five home runs and 14 RBI and missed significant time with a knee injury.
Since he made his return this past Saturday, he has played pretty well, hitting .300 (5-for-15) with two homers, two RBI, three runs, and a walk in four games.
Just as he is showing signs of his old self, the Yankees need him to keep it up with the health of Carlos Beltran becoming an issue.
Beltran left Tuesday night’s game in the first inning with a right hamstring injury and was out of the lineup on Wednesday night.
“He’s still sore, but not as sore as he was last night, so he’s day-to-day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game.
“Well, I’m concerned, the fact that he’s not in the lineup today and it’s not completely gone, that’s worrisome, we’ll go day to day and see where he’s at.”
Due to the fact that Teixeira, Alex Rodgriguez, and Brian McCann have all failed to deliver the offense the Yankees expected to receive, Beltran basically carried the team himself the first few months of the season.
In addition to not playing well while he’s in the lineup, Rodriguez missed significant time with a hamstring injury Beltran took over at designated hitter while he was out in May.
For the season, Beltran is hitting .297 with 19 home runs and 53 RBI, all team highs.
Beltran has played in 73 of the Yankees’ 76 games, and this hamstring injury probably means that he will need more days off.
“I mean you want to feel good that when you put him out there, he’s going to be okay. In the situation that we’re in, you can’t necessarily always wait as long as you want, you have to judge somewhere in between there,” Girardi said of how much he can play Beltran, balancing his health and the needs of his team, who entered play Wendesday night at 37-38.
Teixeira will also not be able to play every day as he gets back from his knee injury.
“We’ve got to manage my knee. If we overdo it, then I’m going to be on an operating table, unfortunately, so I’m going to need days here and there, it’s a little sore” Teixeira said of taking Wednesday night off. “We’re going to keep managing it.
“It’s a little sore, Monday night didn’t help, that was just a nightmare night. Probably didn’t help Carlos yesterday either, it’s just an unfortunate situation. Yesterday, it was a little sore, and then today, good day to give it a rest,” Teixeira said of his knee and referencing to Monday’s game that ended at 2:45 a.m.
Teixeira said he talks to trainer Steve Donahue about how many games he can play in a row and how much rest he needs, and that they’ll “just figure out the right times.”
As a result, Girardi will be rotating Beltran, Teixeira, and Rodriguez at designated hitter, and Rob Refsnyder will continue to step in at first base.
On Tuesday night, another option for Refsnyder became apparent as he came in to play right field for the first time this season when Beltran left the game.
One of the Yankees’ top prospects, Refsnyder, whose natural position is second base, continues to impress Girardi as he moves around the field.
“I think any time you get more games under your belt, you’re going to mature as a player,” Girardi said of Refsnyder’s higher level of maturity in his second year in pinstripes. “He did a pretty nice job for us last year when he was up here. I think there’s probably more of a sense of confidence. This kid’s had to adapt to a lot, a couple of different position changes. He’s really pushed himself on here because he’s made himself more versatile, and he gives you really good at-bats and run the bases well. We really like what he’s done.”
“Ref’s doing a real good job at first base,” said Teixeira. “I really enjoy talking to him about playing first. I think he’s doing a good job. If I can take a day off to rest my knee, I think he’s doing really well filling in for me.”
While the Yankees will trust Teixeira to come back to the form he showed in the past, they also need to rely on Refsnyder to show the future is here.