Mark Teixeira wants to keep playing through the age of 40, helped by a few years as a DH.
TAMPA â€“ Mark Teixeiraâ€™s contract expires at the end of the season, but the All-Star first baseman isnâ€™t ready to say his time in pinstripes is coming to an end.
Teixeira â€“ who arrived at Yankees camp Wednesday along with the rest of the position players â€“ said he wants to play through the age of 40.
â€œIâ€™d love to play five more years,â€ said Teixeira, who turns 36 on April 11. â€œIf you had asked me that when I was coming off wrist surgery, I was pretty honest with you guys. I felt like crap pretty much the entire year in 2014. I didn’t know what the future held for me, but Iâ€™ve completely turned that around.
â€œMy body feels so good, why not play until Iâ€™m 40? Being the kind of hitter I am, I can be a DH the last few years of my career, which could really prolong it. I would love to play that long.â€
Teixeiraâ€™s contract is one of four mega-deals the Yankees are preparing to shed in the next two years. Carlos Beltranâ€™s deal is also up after this season, while Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia are set to expire at the end of the 2017 campaign. Most assume this will be Teixeiraâ€™s final year in pinstripes, though with Greg Bird undergoing shoulder surgery this winter, anything is possible.
Would Teixeira like to finish out his career in the Bronx?
â€œAbsolutely; thatâ€™s probably the easiest question you could ask me,â€ Teixeira said. â€œIâ€™d love to stay here, but weâ€™ll see what happens at the end of the year.â€
Manager Joe Girardi was happy to hear that his first baseman believes he can play for so many more years.
â€œI think itâ€™s great for players to play as long as they want to and they feel that they can be successful, and obviously he feels good about where he is physically or I donâ€™t think he would say that,â€ Girardi said. â€œThe most important thing is for him to stay healthy, because if he is, heâ€™ll be productive.â€
Teixeira is entering the final season of the eight-year, $ 180 million contract he signed before the 2009 season. He averaged 37 home runs and 114 RBI â€“ and most importantly, 157 games played â€“ during the first three years, but the past four years have been injury-plagued for the first baseman. Heâ€™s played in only 372 of the Yankeesâ€™ 648 games, missing 51 games last year, the final 36 due to a fractured right leg after he fouled a ball off his shin.
â€œItâ€™s a little weird,â€ Teixeira said of entering a contract year. â€œI mean, seven years have gone by in an instant; really, itâ€™s amazing how quickly itâ€™s gone by. For me to be in a really productive position, and helping our team win in maybe my last year here, thatâ€™s all I can ask for.â€
Prior to the leg injury, Teixeira was having a renaissance season, hitting 31 home runs with 79 RBI in 111 games. His .548 slugging percentage was his best since 2009.
Teixeira hasnâ€™t been in a contract year since 2008, when he hit a combined .308/.410/.552 with 33 home runs and 121 RBI with the Braves and Angels.
â€œI think I have a lot of good years left in me especially after last year,â€ Teixeira said. â€œThe great thing about contract years is if you do your job on the field for your team, the contract works out for you. That kind of stuff falls into place if you go out and have a good year and help your team.â€
The fractured leg was healed by the end of October, allowing Teixeira to shed his crutches and begin his offseason training. He followed the same regimen and eating habits as last winter â€“ â€œIâ€™m still on the no-fun diet,â€ he said â€“ and believes his 2016 season can be as productive as 2015 was until that fateful foul ball brought his year to a halt on August 17.
Teixeira said he feels better entering camp than he did a year ago, giving him the hope that another big season is in the cards.
â€œLast year was a freak thing and hopefully those kind of freak things donâ€™t happen anymore,â€ Teixeira said. â€œIâ€™m in great shape, I feel strong, so itâ€™s all signs are really positive going into this season.â€
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