Mark Teixeira, who has been bothered all season by a respiratory ailment, had most of the weekend off, his only action coming when he pinch-hit for Eric Chavez in the ninth inning of Sunday’s loss. So, it is of course possible that he is feeling a lot better and will be back in the lineup on Monday against Kansas City as he expects.
But what if he’s not?
“I’m not 100 percent, obviously,” Teixeira said following Sunday's game, where he reached on an error in his lone at-bat of the weekend. “I think at this point, I know I have to deal with it for a while. The days off definitely helped and we’ll see how it goes. We’re going to keep managing it. I’m not worried. I played a month and a half with it and hopefully time is going to make it better.”
It sounds as if Teixeira knows that it’s all about managing his illness at this point. But with the Yankees offense as a whole struggling, might it be best for the team to give Tex a longer time (say, 15 days?) to see if it helps the situation any?
Teixeira is a notorious slow starter and is adjusting to a new spot in the order (hitting behind A-Rod instead of in front of him), so his line through the weekend of .226/.281/.384-5-20 isn’t necessarily “surprising” so to speak.
But, it is magnified by the fact that the entire lineup is struggling, especially with runners in scoring position – so perhaps a temporary infusion of new blood could help kick-start the regulars.
Right now, first baseman Steve Pearce is having an all-star quality campaign in Triple-A. His .315 average is fifth in the International League, and he’s in the Top 10 in home runs (8), total bases (83), and all three categories of slugging, on-base percentage, and OPS.
It is true that even with though he has MLB experience, Pearce’s numbers might not translate to the Major League level. And, of course, the team would miss Teixeira’s Gold Glove defense at first – but that is the least of the team’s worries right now, and there is a two-fold possible benefit here.
As far as Tex’s offense is concerned, well, as Derek Jeter seems to have proven since his calf injury last June, maybe a couple weeks off is just what the doctor ordered.
And, there is at least precedent that a move like this could pay off psychologically as it was just five years ago that Shelley Duncan came up to bolster a Yankees team that was 43-43 at the 2007 All-Star break and had their slugging first baseman disabled after playing through a nagging ailment for two months; Duncan proceeded to hit five homers in his first two weeks in the bigs, and the Yankees on to play .667 baseball in the second half en route to winning the Wild Card.
Whether that was causation or correlation, no one can possibly ever truly know, but the point stands – for the health of both the first baseman and the team, sending Mark Teixeira to the DL might not be the worst move in the world to make.