Commentary

Teixeira again looks human in April

Struggling slugger meeting with hitting coach Kevin Long in Tampa to work on his swing

Updated: April 8, 2010, 12:58 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

Mark Teixeira is often compared to a robot, as if he were a baseball-playing machine. He does everything the right way. He is a switch-hitter. He is an excellent baserunner. He is a Gold Glove first baseman. He says the right things. He almost doesn't seem real.

Except that his wires seemingly get crossed every April.

After three hitless games in Boston, Teixeira is going back to the shop to reboot his system. He and hitting coach Kevin Long planned to meet at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa on Thursday to work on his swing, specifically from the left side.

"Days off for me as a switch-hitter -- getting off to a slow start -- aren't very good," Teixeira said.

[+] EnlargeMark Teixeira
Elsa/Getty ImagesMark Teixeira's wires always seem crossed in April.

The Yankees' first week of scheduling is a bit odd. They have had days off Monday and now Thursday. This has thrown Teixeira all out of whack. He went 0-for-Boston, hitless in 12 at-bats with three walks.

"My left-handed swing isn't where it needs to be right now," Teixeira said.

This is the same story for Teixeira as it is every year. It is also a pretty good bet that by the end of the season, he will be at around .290 with 35 or so homers and 120 RBIs.

Still, every season starts out like April Fools' Day, which is hard to explain because of Teixeira's dedication. He just comes across as a player who is always trying to improve. He doesn't ever seem satisfied. He just can't figure out April.

Perhaps this is the season it changes, because, as Joe Girardi quickly pointed out, it's been only one series. But as another former Yankees catcher has said, it's been "déjà vu all over again."

If the calendar always read March or April, Teixeira would be Mike Jacobs instead of a guy with a $180 million contract. In 151 regular-season games in March and April, Teixeira is a .244 hitter with 22 homers and 76 RBIs. Read those again: .244 with 22 homers and 76 RBIs in 151 games.

Last season, Teixeira began slowly, which is often a way to have a disastrous run as a Yankee. One theory was that without Alex Rodriguez, Teixeira didn't have protection. The first month of the season, he hit just .200 with three homers, 10 RBIs and a lot of questions as to whether he could handle New York.

When A-Rod returned in May, Teixeira began crushing the ball, hitting an outrageous 13 homers with 34 RBIs and a .330 average.

Teixeira owns May. In a little more than a regular season, 184 games, he has hit .295 with 39 homers and 142 RBIs in his career.

Even last year, in his first as a Yankee, he didn't seem to get too down over his bad start. He has a knack of reciting just the right lines. That is who he is. That is how he is now.

"I feel great," Teixeira said. "I'm swinging at good pitches, but I'm just not doing the damage that I want to do."

It will likely come soon, because Teixeira is a baseball machine. He just can't seem to figure out how to fine-tune for April.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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