Teixeira listed as day-to-day with strained lat

Yankees first baseman expected to miss three to four days with back ailment
07/21/2014 5:20 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Mark Teixeira leads the Yankees in home runs this season with 17.(AP)
New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira will miss at least the next three to four days with what is being deemed a mild Grade 1 strain of his left lat muscle.

Teixeira, who said he has been dealing with back spasms on and off since mid-June, had an MRI Sunday after the pain "ratcheted up" in one spot over the weekend. Teixeira will have a platelet-rich plasma injection from team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad later on Monday, and both he and manager Joe Girardi are hopeful he'll be able to return later in the homestand.

"You don't know how it will respond. Hopefully it responds well, and if that happens, we'll be back soon," Teixeira said. "If not, it may be a few more days."

Added Girardi: "It's not a DL situation now, and we're really hoping it won't be. I think if we were really concerned, we'd put him on the DL right away, but we're hoping that after a few days he feels okay and maybe we get him back in there."

With Teixeira out, Kelly Johnson will man first base, and Girardi said that in regards to a backup, "there could be many options but I wouldn't hesitate to put (Brian McCann) there."

As for the injury itself, Teixeira said he began having back spasms when the Yankees were in Oakland in mid-June, but didn't think much of it because they were in different spots up and down his back. He has had treatment on them as they've come up -- saying he and team trainer Steve Donohue have "thrown anything and everything we could at them" -- but until the pain began to be localized in one spot, he tried to play through it.

"We didn't get an MRI (earlier) because back spasms happen and go away," Teixeira said. "They've gone up and down the whole time, so that's why we just kind of put the fires out, but when the pain ratcheted up in one spot, I knew we needed to take a look at it."

Teixeira and the team were hoping that the All-Star break would help calm the spasms down, but the first baseman, who was 0-for-12 in the post-break series against the Reds, said the pain ramped up over the weekend to the point where it affected hitting from both sides as well as throwing, so he knew something was wrong.

"We didn't really know what we were dealing with. We thought hopefully it would feel better, but unfortunately it felt worse, and that's what happens when you shut down for a little while," he said. "Any type of rotation has been pretty painful, and it got really bad the last few days and so we thought an MRI was needed."

An MRI, as it turns out, that the team physician was glad the first baseman came in for.

"Dr. Ahmad is relieved I got the MRI, because all it takes is one swing and you tear it and you're out for over a month, and no one wants that," Teixeira said. "So it's good we found it relatively early."

The lat injury is the fourth different malady Teixeira has dealt with this season, a list including his DL stint earlier in the year for a strained hamstring and a few games missed because of inflammation in his surgically-repaired right wrist. Perhaps shockingly, however, the first baseman said that the wrist, which cost him almost all of last season, has been the least of his concerns.

"It's been alright, and ever since the cortisone shot I've been happy with it," he said. "It's mostly managing it; I've had to deal with it, but I know what I have to do to get it ready for games."

Still, after missing a year, the nagging injuries this season have frustrated Teixeira.

 "I thought the year off last year would give me a fountain of youth, but it's made me feel rusty at times. Every game it's something, and it's frustrating," he said. "But that's life. You have to grind through things, and I've been grinding pretty well all season. I'm happy with the way I've played when I've been healthy, I just need to get healthy again."

The Yankees hope that's the case, as Teixeira leads the team in home runs, RBI and OPS -- despite having missed 21 of their first 97 games. Credit that, he says, to a combo of desire, luck and skill.

"I don't want to say it's lucky, but you work hard and get some pitches to hit, and hopefully you hit some home runs when your team needs them and drive guys in when they're on base," he said. "The consistent production hasn't been there, but I've still been able to drive runs in, which is what I'm here to do."

And, going forward, he knows that he's not going to be the iron man he once was, but that just means he'll have to work even harder when he is in the lineup.

"When I went down in Toronto, I said 'man, it shouldn't be this hard to play baseball anymore,'" Teixeira said with a slight smile, "but like I said, you grind through it, and hopefully when you're out there, you're productive. It may not be for 160 games anymore, but when I'm out there, I want to produce for my team."

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