When the New York Yankees signed first baseman Mark Teixeira to an eight-year, $180 million deal back in December of 2008, they were expecting to get an All-Star hitter for the middle of the lineup. While Teixeira produced for a few seasons, he has really struggled this season and has left Yankees manager Joe Girardi with some tough decisions to make.
Teixeira has primarily batted third in the lineup throughout his career in pinstripes, but spent some time batting fifth at the end of last season when hot-hitting Robinson Cano was moved up to third. This season, Teixeira is batting just .229 with five home runs, causing Girardi to drop the switch-hitting first baseman down to seventh in the order.
In two games batting seventh, he was 2-7 with a run scored, but was moved back to third in the order for Wednesday night's game.
"The competitor in me says I want to hit where I've always hit," Teixeira said. "We've had a lot of success, and we've won a lot of games with me hitting third. It does mean something, but numbers are numbers. I don't think on anyone's Hall of Fame plaque it says where they hit in the order."
One reason for the power-hitting All-Star's slump could be his inflamed bronchial airways that have lingered since early April and haven't had time to completely heal. Another reason for the slump could be his approach at the plate, which Teixeira plans on adjusting, reports Steven Miller of MLB.com.
After hitting just .248 last season, Teixeira received some criticism for the low batting average because he is a career .280 hitter. To improve his low average from last season, he has tried to make more contact this season and drive pitches for hits instead of staying patient and waiting for home runs.
I've just been putting too many balls in play, I think," said Teixeira. "While last year, 39 home runs but a low batting average wasn't good enough, I think I'd rather hit 39 home runs than 20 or 15. I'd rather drive in 111 runs than 80. I'm going to be more aggressive."
If you ask Girardi, any of Teixeira's teammates, or any fan of the Yankees, they would take 111 RBI over 80 as well. Only time will tell if Teixeira's switch back to his old approach will end his slump, but he had a good start on Wednesday night, walking three times and scoring twice.
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