OAKLAND -- Mark Teixeira is batting just .148 from the left side of the plate. He has just 12 hits in 81 at-bats batting lefty, and has struck out 32 times. (Paradoxically, all three of his home runs this season have come batting left-handed.) His OPS from the left side is an anemic .517.
Joe Girardi's theory is that the predominance of left-handed starters the Yankees have faced this season has caused Teixeira to have difficulty getting started as a left-handed hitter, even though he has had 29 more at-bats lefty than righty this season.
It would seem that Thursday night's opener of a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics, and their right-handed starter Kendall Graveman, would be a perfect opportunity for Teixeira to work on that left-handed swing.
But Teixeira is not in the Yankees lineup; Dustin Ackley will play first base and bat seventh against Graveman. Girardi said it is "just a day off" for Teixeira, but after having gone 0-for-9 with six strikeouts in the Yankees' last two games in Arizona, it might be more than that.
"I think he’s hit the ball more consistent right-handed; I think he’s hit the ball harder left-handed," Girardi said. "He just hasn’t seemed to get going. It seemed like he was in a good spot when we left spring training. He was hitting the ball well, then all of a sudden we faced a bunch of left-handers and he kind of lost it. He’ll find it. He’ll get it going. I don’t think he’s real far off, either.”
Teixeira is in the midst of the longest homerless streak of his career, 108 at-bats and counting, and on Wednesday, he was one of four Yankees criticized by name by owner Hal Steinbrenner. Teixeira explained that away as a cost of being the big dog in a lineup.
"I've been around long enough to know that you're going to get singled out when you're not producing, especially the type of career that I've had," he said. "I've always been someone that's been able to carry teams during tough streaks. We've been in a tough stretch the whole season. I'm the kind of player that can carry a team for a while. I just haven't done it yet."
Throughout his career, Teixeira has been bedeviled by slow starts, and particularly by bad Aprils. But he seemed as mystified as anyone that his early-season slump has now lasted seven weeks, and by his lack of power.
"I'm just not driving the ball left-handed," he said. "Too many ground balls. That's something I'm trying to work on. My natural swing puts the ball in the air and the home runs come. Hopefully they will start coming."
"Hopefully he gets it going," Girardi said.
Here's the Yankees' lineup for Thursday:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Brett Gardner, LF
Carlos Beltran, DH
Brian McCann, C
Starlin Castro, 2B
Chase Headley, 3B
Dustin Ackley, 1B
Didi Gregorius, SS
Aaron Hicks, RF
Ivan Nova, RHP