NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Father Time catches up with all of us. Mark Teixeira is no different — and he knows it.
The Yankees’ veteran first baseman said prior to Monday’s game in Texas that at this point in his career he can’t play through nagging injuries anymore. The 34-year-old slugger has missed 29 games this season after missing all but 15 last season.
That’s a far cry from his first nine seasons, in which he averaged 153 games played, despite having significant injuries, including knee and ankle surgeries.
“I was injured plenty, I just played through it,” Teixeira said. “I can’t play through them anymore. That’s just the fact of the matter. The guys ask me, ‘How did you play in Texas for five years, 100 degrees every night?’ I was young. I was a kid. I played through everything.”
When he has been able to play this season, Teixeira has been the Yankees’ most productive player, registering a team-high 17 home runs and 48 RBI. He has been sidelined with lingering effects from the wrist injury that ruined his 2013 season, leg ailments and currently a back problem which has kept him out of the starting lineup since July 20. He hit a pinch-hit single during the Yankees’ 4-2 loss on Monday.
“That’s just the way it is when you’re young,” Teixeira said. “I can’t play through those things (now). I don’t think I would have had to miss games with back spasms. I don’t think I would have missed games with the little tweak of my hamstring earlier in the season. Now I just can’t get through those anymore. Father Time is undefeated.”
The problem for the Yankees (54-51) is they desperately need Teixeira’s bat in the lineup. A team-wide, season-long slump has played a big role in the Bombers’ being four games out in the AL East race, even more so than the devastating injuries that have erased 80 percent of the starting rotation.
In Teixeira’s absence the Yankees have been making use of their vast catching depth, playing Brian McCann at first and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate, but even that combination doesn’t make up for the switch-hitting threat Teixeira has been during a career in which he’s hit .276 with 358 home runs and 1,161 RBI.
The Yankees owe Teixeira $22.5 million in both 2015 and ’16, but it appears they will be lucky to get 125 games out of him each season.
“At a certain point, you hit a wall,” Teixeira said. “I hit a wall last year, and hopefully I won’t have a lot of these, but if they do pop up, it’s just harder to play through it. There’s two ways to look at it: play until something hurts or you take days off, but you never want to take days off when you’re healthy. And I think that’s kind of baseball. You play until you can’t play.”
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