In addition to providing some insight on teammate Andy Pettitte’s status for 2011, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira on Tuesday said that his hamstring injury has healed faster than expected, adding that he has been running “at full speed” for the past month.
“I couldn’t be happier with how the rehab went,” Teixeira said on Tuesday at a Times Square news conference for Thursday's New Era Pinstripe Bowl game at Yankee Stadium. “You know, I was running full speed at about five weeks. The initial diagnosis was that it was going to take six to eight weeks to get healthy so I feel really good.”
Teixeira strained his right hamstring running down the first base line in the fifth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS in October. He was pulled from the game and later removed from the postseason roster because of the injury as the Yankees lost to the series to the Rangers in six games.
He said Tuesday that he’s had no issues with the injury of late and sounded like he was ready to start spring training tomorrow.
“It actually worked out great because I spent the first month of the off-season, which is usually an active rest period for me… I took that month as my rehab month,” Teixeira said. “And then once December 1st came I was lifting weights and running full speed.”
Teixeira was dealing with thumb and toe injuries in the final five weeks of the regular season, when he hit just .220 with three homers and 13 RBI. Teixeira then hit .213 with three homers and 12 RBI in the postseason. He was hitless in 14 at-bats in the ALCS.
“September and October were brutal,” said Teixeira, who finished the regular season hitting .256 with 33 homers and 108 RBI. “The toughest thing is playing all year and battling through all year. And having a good first round – the whole team played well I played well the first round – and then being basically useless in the second round. It was very difficult, very frustrating.
“There are a lot of things you can’t control in baseball. Injuries sometimes you can’t control. But at the same time, you do everything possible to make yourself ready for another 162 plus the playoffs and that’s our goal this year.”
PLENTY OF MONEY IN THE BANK: Yankees president Randy Levine almost chuckled when he was asked if the Yankees have enough room to add payroll before opening day.
“Yes, one good thing about Cliff Lee not signing is that we have a lot of payroll flexibility and a great farm system,” Levine said Tuesday at a press conference to kick off the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, to be held at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon. “So (Yankees GM Brian Cashman) is doing the right thing. He’s being patient. There’s a long time before spring training (pitchers and catchers report on February 14) and opening day. As I’ve said since I’ve been president of the Yankees, we’ve won a lot of Novembers and Decembers and lost Octobers so October is the important month.”
If he’s at all nervous about the big Red Sox additions of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and – to a lesser extent – reliever Bobby Jenks this offseason, Levine did a good job of hiding it while speaking to reporters.
“I think Boston’s a great organization. They fight us, play us tough all the time. They did great (in the offseason). But I think we have a great team. And as I’ve said, you’ve got to play the games,” Levine said. “I love our team. I think our team is going to be competing. It’s a championship-caliber team and we’ll make it better. We have time, we’ll make it better.
“But the Red Sox had a great offseason, have a great team. But so do we. You’ve got to play the games.”
It seems like the Yankees will seek to add a starter to compete for a spot in the back end of the rotation and a left-handed reliever to replace the injured Damaso Marte. They also may need to add another bullpen arm to replace the departed Kerry Wood, who served as the primary bridge to Mariano Rivera after he was acquired via trade in late July.
When asked about their interest in adding Washington Heights product Manny Ramirez as a designated hitter/right-handed bat in the outfield, Levine said "We look at all free agents and in the course of all free-agents his name has come up."
The YES Network reported last week that the Yankees have had "internal discussions" about pursuing the free-agent slugger.
"So whether we have interest or don’t have interest it was discussed and it’s not really for me to say one way or the other," Levine added. "If something happens it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But, just to be fair ... we go over every free-agent. And he’s a free-agent."