It is a phrase not heard often when it comes to Mark Teixeira and an injury. “So far it’s been best-case scenario,” the first baseman said over the weekend in Minneapolis.
When Teixeira was placed on the disabled list June 4 with a cartilage tear in his right knee, it appeared a fait accompli that the 14-year veteran’s season soon would be declared over, with surgery likely to follow.
There was quite a bit of “yeah, sure, whatever” reaction when the Yankees and Teixeira said not long afterward that he could be back on the field within three weeks. But come Tuesday night that is where the 36-year-old Teixeira will be as he begins a three-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He is scheduled to start at first base Tuesday and Thursday and at DH Wednesday. With no setbacks, he’ll rejoin the Yankees Saturday.
“Very excited,” said Teixeira, who has a .180/.271/.263 slash line with three homers and 12 RBIs in 167 at-bats. He said last week in Denver that he thought a two-game rehab stint would be sufficient, but is OK with the three games.
“I have to make sure that (the knee) bounces back,” he said. “We do no good here if I can only play every other day or something. So I think three days will give us a good opportunity to test it.”
Teixeira received shots of cortisone and lubricant a couple of days after going on the DL, and he said he has been surprised by how well he’s felt since.
“(The doctors) haven’t really said much after ‘Let’s hope this works,’ ” he said. “We know what we’re dealing with, and we know that I got a good response from the first round of shots, and if we have to cross that bridge, we’ll cross it and do it again if we have to. But hopefully we don’t.”
Teixeira started doing light running a week ago and gradually built up his ration of baseball activities, finally running the bases full out Saturday and Sunday.
He couldn’t pinpoint one specific improvement that told him he was ready to tackle a rehab assignment.
“I guess it’s everything,” he said. “The crazy thing about what I had is when walking my knee would lock up. So just walking around the clubhouse (without discomfort) is a good first step. But then you take your grounders, you take BP, and then you start running the bases and you kind of pass every hurdle and everything’s felt good since probably two or three days after the injection, so that’s been a positive.”
Teixeira has been his usual standout self in the field this season but, as has been well documented, he’s been awful at the plate. Fan favorite Rob Refsnyder, called upon to play a variety of positions, including first in Teixeira’s absence, has performed capably at all of them and has a .283/.333/.391 slash line in 18 games. Refsnyder has five extra-base hits — all doubles — three fewer extra-base hits than Teixeira has produced in 48 games.
Teixeira also missed time this season because of neck spasms that, in tandem with the knee issues, could have impacted his offense. But he said “there’s no excuses” for the poor numbers.
“When you’re on the field, you have to perform,” Teixeira said. “Whenever I get back on the field with the Yankees, hopefully the injuries are behind me, and I can just go out there and play and be healthy and produce.”