Tex still out, but please keep A-Rod off 1B
The news on the condition of Mark Teixeira’s right leg remains bad, even to the point of worse. Tex, who had hoped to return to action during the three-game series at Boston, will find himself on crutches instead.
An MRI of the All-Star first baseman Tuesday in New York showed a deeper bone bruise than originally revealed and more fluid in the area which he damaged Aug. 17 by fouling a ball off it. Tex has made one start and three plate appearances in 13 games since then. The Yankees are 7-6 in those games.
The only positive part of the medical report on Teixeira is that there is no fracture of the bone. Nevertheless, he cannot run and needs crutches for the next few days just to walk. This does not bode well for the Yankees as they start September and begin a stretch run trailing the Blue Jays by 1 1/2 games in the American League East.
Greg Bird, the rookie who has played first base mostly while Tex has been sidelined, has done a decent job overall, although his performance in Monday night’s 4-3 loss was far from his best. He struck out twice with the bases loaded in his 1-for-5 showing, was thrown out at the plate trying to score and bobbled a potential double-play grounder as what proved the deciding run scored.
All this concern about first base has prompted manager Joe Girardi to consider using Alex Rodriguez there, which I think is foolish. To begin with, A-Rod is not a first baseman. He has spent his entire career on the left side of the infield. Rodriguez played a game there earlier in the season and was horrible in the field. He has been a designated hitter most of the season and benefit from not taxing his 40-year-old legs to make an offensive comeback. I would not mess around with that, especially at a time when A-Rod has shown the first signs of advanced age. He batted .153 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 85 at-bats in August and watched his season batting average slide from .282 to .256. Girardi finally took him out of the 3-hole in the batting order Tuesday night.
The Yankees have other options that to me make more sense. Third baseman Chase Headley, a switch hitter, has shown in the past that he can handle first base as well and could be used in a sort of platoon with Bird. Brendan Ryan also has experience at first base, as does Austin Romine, a catcher by trade and who is one of the eighth minor-league players the Yankees promoted as rosters expanded Tuesday. Utility infielder Dustin Ackley is also experienced as a first baseman.
No matter how you look at it, Teixeira’s loss will be difficult for the Yankees to overcome, but they should not compound it with the notion that a 40-year-old DH who 130 games into the season has played only 35 innings in the field (10 at first base) might be part of the solution.