NEW YORK -- New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira walked off the field to cheers Saturday after hitting a single and being replaced by a pinch runner in the fifth inning of New York's 7-3, come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The 36-year-old Teixeira will receive many more standing ovations Sunday, when he plays the final game of his 14-year major league career.
"Oh yeah. I'll sleep really [well] tonight," Teixeira said. "I've been at peace with this decision for a really long time. I'll be excited when I get to the ballpark, but I've got some family and friends in town, so I'll enjoy some time with them tonight, then get a good night's sleep."
Teixeira, a three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove award winner who has belted 409 lifetime homers and driven in 1,297 runs, announced he was going to retire in early August. Nagging injuries have contributed to his decline at the plate this season (.206, 15 HR, 44 RBIs).
"Since I came off the disabled list after I hurt my knee, I've enjoyed being with the young players and having fun," said Teixeira, who is in the final season of an eight-year, $180 million contract. "The first couple months were brutal, but kind of knowing in the back of my mind that I was leaning towards retirement, I just kind of took every day that I was playing as a blessing and tried to take of advantage of that day. I've had a great career, and I have no regrets at all."
Teixeira's greatest memories as a Yankee came during the 2009 playoffs, when he hit a walk-off home run in Game 2 of the ALDS and a tying homer in Game 2 of the World Series. It was the only championship he won during his MLB career.
"I'm sure there's going to be a ton of emotions for him tomorrow," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He talked about playing these [past] two games half the game, and let's see. He may want to play the whole game tomorrow, and if that's what he wants to do, that's what I'll do."
Teixeira made his MLB debut on April 1, 2003 with the Texas Rangers. He hit just .188 in his first month, but his manager at the time, Buck Showalter, kept penciling him in the lineup. Teixeira soon started to pick it up. Following a rookie season when he had 26 home runs and 84 RBIs, he posted eight consecutive 30-100 seasons, becoming a terrific fielder in the process.
Teixeira is glad Showalter, now the manager in Baltimore, will be on hand for the pregame ceremonies.
"Buck put me on my first big-league roster," Teixeira said. "He believed in me as a rookie, stuck with me as a rookie and I had four great years in Texas, so it'll be cool to see him across the field, understanding that he was there from the very beginning."
Tyler Austin, a candidate along with Greg Bird to replace Teixeira at first next season, had a pair of hits -- including the tying homer in the seventh. Austin said he learned a lot from Teixeira about playing the position.
"I'm going to take in every minute of it and just celebrate him and his career," Austin said. "Tomorrow is his day."