JERSEY CITY - After saying goodbye to Derek Jeter as a teammate, Mark Teixeira is ready to welcome back Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees' clubhouse next season, the first baseman said Monday.
"Alex is our teammate," Teixeira said at Liberty National Golf Course, where he served as the host of the inaugural Celebrity Golf Classic, a fundraiser to benefit Harlem RBI. "We have rules in place; [Rodriguez] did his time. We've had other teammates that have been suspended before and there's players all over baseball that have been suspended, so those are the rules, he's going to come back, we're going to welcome him as a teammate just like any other teammate."
Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for using performance-enhancing drugs but is eligible to return in 2015, and manager Joe Girardi has said the Yankees will welcome him back with open arms.
Teixeira, 34, who was plagued by hamstring, wrist, back, lat, groin and finger issues this season, hopes to rebound next year. His injuries limited him to 123 games in which he had 22 home runs and 62 RBIs. He batted .216 with a .313 on-base percentage and .711 OPS, far below the career figures of .279, .369 and .896 he brought into 2013, when he injured his right wrist in spring training, played in only 15 games and wound up having surgery.
He looked refreshed as he touted the cause of Harlem RBI, an organization that uses baseball and softball to help boys and girls in Harlem and the Bronx develop life skills and build better lives for themselves. Teixeira said he feels great and intends to spend the winter building strength in an effort to avoid injuries and improve his production.
He applauded managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner's apology to the fans after the club missed the postseason for a second straight year and Steinbrenner's acknowledgment that he and Brian Cashman are talking about a contract extension for the general manager.
Cashman, Teixeira said, will do "a great job" improving the roster this offseason. Simply getting back players who were out for significant parts of the season will improve the team, too, he said.
"We'd love to get CC [Sabathia] back; we'd love to get Ivan Nova back and [have Masahiro] Tanaka back for a whole season -- you know, myself and Carlos Beltran being healthy will help," he said. "You get all those guys healthier, everyone else on the roster gets a little better and we make some strides, [and] we're right back where we want to be."