Mark Teixeira: 'Feel like a kid again'

ByAndrew Marchand ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is now gluten free, sugar free and dairy free, which he hopes will keep him injury free.

Teixeira's belief in his new diet and renewed weightlifting program makes him believe that he can stay fully healthy for the first time since 2011. If he does, Teixeira thinks he can be a 30-homer and 100-RBI player again.

"I look at the last two years as hopefully more of a bump in the road," Teixeira said. "The way I feel now, I feel like a kid again. I feel like I did a few years ago when I was hitting 30-plus homers and driving in 100 RBIs, playing almost every single day.

"Thirty and 100 is kind of what I've always been and what I want to be. So if I can do that, then I know I'm helping the team out. That is the most important thing. I know if I can do that, then I know I'm helping the team out."

In 2013, wrist surgery limited Teixeira to 15 games. Last year, he played in 123 games, hitting .216 with 22 homers and 62 RBIs. He said the daily one-hour treatment made the season not "fun at all."

Two years removed from the surgery, he thinks his wrist should hold up. He last had a 30-and-100 season in 2011, when he hit 39 homers and drove in 111 runs in 156 games.

Teixeira, who turns 35 in April, hasn't played more than 123 games since that 2011 season but thinks that with his new diet he will cut down on the inflammation in his body. He said he will use the diet, which consists of no bread and a lot of buffalo meat, the rest of his playing career. He said he reconfigured his body, adding 13 pounds of muscle, while losing fat.

"I have to go all-in," Teixeira said.

As for the shift that has reduced his batting average over the years, Teixeira said his only remedy is to hit more home runs and doubles and to walk more.

"We have talked about it ad nauseam," Teixeira said. "Every time I try to talk about it and slap the ball the other way, it just doesn't go well for anybody. That's exactly what the other team wants, to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter."

Teixeira's locker is next to Alex Rodriguez in spring training, and the two have known each other since Teixeira was a rookie in Texas. Teixeira is looking forward to mentoring Rodriguez, who could be the backup at first base, along with being the designated hitter and playing some at third.

"It is funny; I was a rookie when Alex was the best player in the world, and he got to teach me some things," Teixeira said. "Now I'm going to be able to teach him some things. Having a backup, a decent backup is important, because I know there were times last year when I was just out there for my defense."