Mark Teixeira thought the time off last season because of injuries would give him "a fountain of youth." Instead, he said, it's made him rusty and prone to more injury.
Four days after the All-Star break ended, the 34-year-old first baseman became the latest health concern for the Yankees.
Teixeira was out of the lineup Monday night after an MRI taken Sunday revealed what he and manager Joe Girardi called a "mild strain" in his lower lat muscle on the left side of his back.
Girardi said Teixeira will be out the next three or four games, but he thinks he will be able to avoid the disabled list.
The switch hitter said he feels pain in his back when he swings from either side of the plate and has discomfort whenever he throws.
"Anything with any type of rotation, it's been pretty painful," said Teixeira, who missed two weeks in April with a right hamstring strain and missed the majority of last season after surgery on his right wrist.
"I think if we were concerned, really concerned, we'd put him on the DL right away," Girardi said before the Yankees played the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. "We're hoping that after three or four days, maybe he feels OK and maybe we can get him back in there."
Teixeira started getting back spasms when the Yankees played in Oakland in mid-June. It has bothered him "on and off" since, but he said the pain "really ratcheted up the past few days." He expected to receive a platelet-rich plasma shot Monday night.
"It's been a long time, unfortunately," he said.
Teixeira said the time off because of the All-Star break last week actually did him a disservice. He felt worse when he rejoined the team.
"We didn't really know what we were dealing with," he said. "We thought that hopefully it would feel better after the four days off. Unfortunately, it felt worse. The blood's not flowing, you don't have that adrenaline pumping through your body and it becomes worse. I think that's what we saw this weekend."
The Yankees swept the Reds over the weekend, but Teixeira went 0-for-12 with five strikeouts in the series. He batted with at least one runner in scoring position three times Sunday and struck out each time.
Teixeira leads the Yankees in home runs (17) and RBIs (48) but has a .231/.330/.443 slash line this season. "The consistent production hasn't been there," he said. "But I've still been able to drive runs in, which is what I'm here to do."
Girardi did not completely attribute Teixeira's recent struggles to the lat injury, but he said it could be a factor.
"These guys right now are always dealing with aches and pains," Girardi said. "It's been his lat. There's been a couple of other little things, his neck was kind of stiff . . . so you don't know if it's all related."
Kelly Johnson started in Teixeira's place Monday night. Girardi said catcher Brian McCann also could see time at first base while Teixeira rests.
"Hopefully, the back responds well to the PRP. If that happens, then hopefully I will be back soon," Teixeira said. "If not, it may take a few more days after that."