Monday, April 11, 2011

Yankees Teixeira Deals With April's 'Funky Stats' Again

If New York Yankees Mark Teixeira is 0-for-18, it must be April.  Never mind showers that bring flowers, it's usually his April slumps that bring a little power every spring.

Teixeira, notorious for his slow spring starts, may have been fooled by the season's early start date and stormed out of the gate.  He batted .333 with 4 home-runs in his first five games leading fans to believe the first-baseman had conquered the spate of early-season struggles which have dogged Teixeira throughout his career.

The surprisingly great start had a reality check and now a dreadful 0-for-18 slump leaves Teixeira batting .182 in the third spot.  The slide was highlighted by a hitless weekend against the Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees dropped 2-of-3 against their division rivals culminating with Josh Beckett's 2-hit gem on Sunday night.

Teixeira, who turns 31 today, had a blistering start to the season.  He hit four home-runs with 10 RBI's during that span.  He now has six hits and 10 strikeouts in 33 at-bats.

The top of the Yankee order is, so far, pretty bland and can't be helping Teixeira much.  Leadoff batter Brett Gardner is hitting .167 followed by Derek Jeter and his piddling .206 average.  The healthy stats of the No. 4 and 5 batters, Alex Rodriguez (who sat out last night's game) and Robinson Cano, make Tex less of a concern to opposing pitchers than the hitters who follow him.  Teixeira has become the cheese on a white-bread and multi-grain sandwich.

"They pitched me really tough this weekend," Teixeira said last night.  "Any ball I hit hard got caught.  They pitched me tough.  [Today's] day off will be nice to just regroup and get back to work on Tuesday."

Teixeira doesn't have to feel relatively bad about last night's three-strikeout performance.  Beckett made the rest of the Yankees team look just as small.  The rejuvenated Boston right-hander mowed down 10 pinstripers on strikeouts and looked like the Beckett of old.

For the weekend, Tex was 0-for-12 with six strikeouts.  When last seen he was arguing a strikeout call against Jonathan Papelbon.

"He [Beckett] was really good tonight," said Teixeira.  "Some nights you beat yourself up and some nights you tip your cap and this was one of those nights."

It looks like the Yankees will have to just wait until May for Teixeira to get his groove back.  While the four-time Gold Glove winner earns his keep in the field, Teixeira says he doesn't put too much emphasis on early-season swoons and batting stats.

"If I did, I would have retired years ago," he said.  "The first nine games you're going to have some funky stats.  You're going to have guys that you say that this guy is going to be the next MVP and he's sent down a month later.  You're going to have guys that are hitting .050 and then he wins the MVP.  It's a such a small part of the season."

Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, seems to take Teixeira's .232 career April average in stride.

"He's just missing balls a little bit, that's all," the manager said.  " And you're seeing good pitching out there."

Teixeira may be sugar-coating his frustration.  While the Red Sox were celebrating their win, after Teixeira's final swing, he followed the umpire to dispute the call.

"You guys saw it," Teixeira said.  " I'm not allowed to say anything.  I didn't yell at him.  It is what it is.  He said he might have missed it.  I wasn't going to hit a grand slam with no one on.  I might have gone nuts, but we didn't get the job done."

"It's raining, it's cold. You can't get a rhythm sometimes," said Teixeira.  I'd love to be able to hit .300 from day one...that's the way baseball is."


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