Teixeira optimistic for 2013, confident in Yankees
First baseman likes idea of adding veteran free agent Hunter
NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira may have been disappointed by his own performance during an injury-marred season, but the switch-hitter rejects the idea that the Yankees are too old to keep up in the tough American League East.
"We have a bunch of older guys, but in certain times, that experience really helps," Teixeira said. "We've had a quote 'old team' for all four years I've been here.
"We've won more games than anyone else in the American League and we're the only American League team to win a World Series; we've been to three LCSes. We've had an amazing run -- for anybody but the Yankees."
Teixeira appeared at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday to take part in the Beyond Sport United conference on behalf of Harlem RBI. He said that while the Tigers' sweep in the American League Championship Series still stings, he is ready to roll the calendar ahead to 2013.
"We're always optimistic," Teixeira said. "There is not a guy that goes into Spring Training saying, 'Uh-oh, I don't know if we have what it takes.' We always believe we have what it takes. There are teams that start the season and on paper they have a great team and they're in third or fourth place. It happens every single year.
"I think the professionalism that we have, the group of guys that we have, the pride we take in playing the game, we're never going to have a team that's going to give up. With all the things that went wrong last year, we still won the division and had home-field advantage in the playoffs."
Teixeira experienced his share of those setbacks. A nagging cough dented his production for the first two months of the season, forcing him to stop working out, and a left calf strain cost him most of September as Teixeira's eight-season streak of 30 homers and 100 RBIs was snapped.
"If I was healthy all year, I'd have had another 30 and 100-plus season," Teixeira said. "Because I missed 30-plus games, I wasn't able to do the things that I normally do. The first two months of the season were tough. [Next spring], I'm not going to be as concerned about a little pound here or a little quickness there.
"You do everything you can to try to stay healthy and hope for the best, but I make my money in the field and at the plate. Everything else -- if I can drive in 100 runs, hit 30 home runs and win a Gold Glove, I'm happy. That's what I need to be for this team."
While Teixeira acknowledges that he has not kept close tabs on the baseball offseason, he did champion the idea of signing free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter, a teammate of Teixeira's in 2008 with the Angels.
"I love Torii. I had the chance to play with him for 2 1/2 months in Anaheim," Teixeira said. "Great guy, great player, can do a lot of different things. He doesn't make our team younger, but he does make it a little bit more balanced.
"You'd have a right-handed hitting outfielder, a guy who can steal bases, a guy that has proven his defense and offense -- he's still a very productive player. We'll see what happens, but he would be a great addition to our team."
That may be a long shot, however. Reports have indicated that Hunter is leaning toward signing with the Tigers, and the Rangers also interested, as those clubs are apparently willing to offer Hunter more than a one-year contract.
Such situations appear to a new reality of the Yankees' landscape, especially with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner's stance that the club should reduce payroll below $189 million for the 2014 season, but Teixeira expects the Yankees will continue competing for years to come.
"I don't think anyone should complain about a $189 million payroll," Teixeira said. "The fact of the matter is, if you have good young players that can come up and take the spot of a veteran that makes $10 or $15 million, then we're not going to skip a beat. We'll see who those young players are."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.