Mark Teixeira "fully ready" for 2014 after final spring adjustmentsLast-minute swing modification marks Tex's last check box of camp
Teixeira and his surgically-repaired wrist came through spring training with no issues, with the first baseman able to check off all of his "spring bucket list" items one-by-one without setback. As he admitted Saturday, though, Teixeira was helped along late in that process by an adjustment to his swing, one borne from a discovery he and hitting coach Kevin Long made about something the first baseman "didn't know (he) was doing" while batting left-handed.
"Kevin and I were watching tape last week, and we noticed that I was protecting my swing the way I was when I was hurt last year," he said. "It was unbelievable how early I was letting my hand go to protect the wrist, and it was a bad mechanical thing that I got into when I was hurt last year."
"We looked at the old film and looked at where he was - he was letting go of the bat right at contact," Long added. "Prior to the wrist injury he was letting go in foul territory, and the problem (with letting go at contact) is that it wasn't allowing him to drive the ball."
It wasn't just something that was happening in game play, either.
"I would do it in batting practice too, so the last couple days of BP I was concentrating on taking that full swing," he said. "Right-handed I never have a problem with the wrist, but left-handed, I have to remind myself mentally that it's healthy now, and even if it gets sore of tight every now and again, I can still take that full swing."
It wasn't a shocking revelation for Teixeira - as Long noted, he didn't think the first baseman saw it as anything more than "another check mark to go after" - but because Teixeira takes the majority of his at-bats left-handed, the hitch could have been a real problem if not discovered and corrected.
As Tex said, though, he finally got into the groove in his final spring game, and he's confident he can continue it into the regular season.
"(Thursday) was the first game that all of the swings I was taking were full swings; it felt really good and the wrist responded well, so it was a good sign," Teixeira said.
"I can't tell you how positive (Thursday's game in) Bradenton was for him, for us as instructors, and for Joe Girardi to see," Long added. "We all needed to see that. You want these guys going into the season feeling good about their swing and what they're doing and how the ball is coming off the bat, and that was some positive feedback for everyone."
And so, check off one last piece of uncertainty for Teixeira, who summed up the state of his wrist injury as a non-issue, especially now that he knows how to manage it.
"It feels good, but I can tell when I overdo it; anytime I try to deviate from the amount of swings I want to take, it tells me to back off just a little bit," he said. "But then again, I know I'm going to get stronger as the season progresses, so I just need to stick to the plan of how many swings to take and how much effort to put into it."
Whether or not his usual numbers are there remains to be seen, but for a man who admitted that he had no expectations both coming into and now coming out of camp, there are some positive signs.
"I've been hitting some nice line drives, and I know I need to get under them and make them home runs," he said, "but that will come as the season goes on and I get stronger. Like I've said, no one can predict what the season is going to give you, but what I do know is that I've come through six weeks of spring training, healthy, so that is a good sign."
And, perhaps, his final statement was the most comforting of all:
"I feel like I am ready for the season."