Mark Teixeira right on target for return to form

03/15/2014 11:12 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Mark Teixeira is poised for a bounce-back year for the Yankees.(AP)
To say this hasn't been a normal spring for Mark Teixeira would be both close to and far from the truth.

In the latter respect, Teixeira has been playing, but also dealing with the final stages of rehab from the wrist surgery that cost him almost all of 2013.

"We do heat, laser, stretching, soft tissue massage," he said Friday of his rehab work, "and I'll do any or all of that every day to help it along."

On the other hand, though, it's been mostly business as usual as the Gold Glover prepares for 2014. He was able to start his normal routine shortly after last season ended, once he was healed and able to grip, and he said outside of the extra treatment, this spring has been "pretty close" to his usual preseason.

Still, he came in to spring training with no expectations, because he wasn't quite sure how all the work he did this winter would translate come mid-February.

"I had a plan, I had goals, and I didn't really know what exactly to expect because everything I did in the offseason was at my own pace," Teixeira said. "I was under control and if I felt anything, I could stop, because you're not trying to show off for anybody. It's a lot different when you get here and have to crank it up."

Slowly but surely, Teixeira has been checking off inner goals one by one this spring, the latest of which was a back-to-back test. He played Thursday's game in Clearwater, then went through a "regular" day of drills and batting practice before playing

"Just another step to make sure were not doing too much too soon," he said of that 36 hour span, "but back-to-back is another good step."

Teixeira's numbers may not be so impressive, as he's just 2-for-12 with three walks this spring; however, Joe Girardi has said he rarely worries about veterans' spring numbers, and for Teixeira, knowing what he's going to be able to do is more important than trying to do what he's "supposed to."

"I'm trying to keep things very simple; I'm not worried about hitting home runs right now because I haven't played for so long," Teixeira said. "Hitting balls hard and squaring balls up is a good sign, and as I get going, the power will come."

After a year off, it's to be expected that things might not pick up where they left off, but Teixeira joked that the "rest" he got will end up being less beneficial than what he learned about himself because of it.

"Yeah, it feels good coming in, and then halfway through, you feel like it's a normal spring training, but that's a good sign," he said. "It means you're working hard. You're never going to be your young self again, so you don't expect that and have to work with what you have."

Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter, his 33 career home runs and .238 average in April much lower on the whole than any other month's totals, but again, he's not worried about what will happen come opening day, because he knows what he can do.

"I've gone years where I had only one or two homers in April and finished with 35, and I'm sure I've gone spring trainings without home runs," he said. "I don't want my swing to be this power swing right away when I just have to worry about good quality swings; it doesn't matter where they go right now, because I just want to make solid contact."

For now, it's day-by-day, check off goals, and wait, but there is one more test Teixeira is eyeing as time goes on, one that will make the ears of Yankees fans happy.

"Just play more, maybe five days in a row. I think our last stretch is four or five in a row before we leave for Houston, so I'd like to play in all of those games, and I shouldn't have any problems."

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