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Humbled Teixeira 'can't get worse'

Humbled Teixeira 'can't get worse'

NEW YORK -- After appearing to leave his annual April doldrums in the rearview mirror, Mark Teixeira will have to work himself out of at least one more slump.

Following an 0-for-4 night with three strikeouts and a walk in Saturday's 5-3 Yankees loss to the Mets, Teixeira has one hit in his past 23 at-bats. His batting average is down to .204, and his on-base percentage stands at .325.

"That's an understatement," Teixeira said when asked if he has been struggling. "As good as I felt for two or three weeks there, I feel the exact opposite right now."

"He's had some good at-bats," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It seems like he's having a hard time staying back right now. He's out in front, swinging and missing some. It looks like he's not picking up the ball at times. He's just struggling a little bit, and it's baseball. You're going to go through that as hitters. That's the reality of it. He's going to hit. He's just struggling right now."

Teixeira, who hit .136 in April, found his stroke in the first 16 games of May. During that stretch, he posted a .333 batting average and a .405 on-base percentage and hit five home runs, including a three-homer game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Since Monday's win against Boston at home, however, the first baseman has seen much of that progress come undone.

"I feel terrible," Teixeira said. "I can't get any worse right now. I'm going to take a step back and just get back to what I've always done, and that's produce."

A switch-hitter, Teixeira said he has been taking 100 or more practice swings per day. With the extra work not yielding any positive results, Teixeira said a less intensive approach may be his next step.

"It's not like I'm going to show up at 6:30 for a 7 o'clock game and say, 'All right, guys, here we go,'" Teixeira said. "To be a switch-hitter, you've got to take twice as many swings anyway. Sometimes those swings add up. When I'm late, when my bat speed's not there, I go, 'OK, it's time for me to step back a little bit.'"

Teixeira isn't the only hitter struggling at the top of the Yankees' order. Derek Jeter, the club's leadoff man, went 0-for-4 with a walk on Saturday. Brett Gardner, hitting in the No. 2 spot, finished 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. In the Yankees' two games against the Mets so far, the three are a combined 1-for-25 with three walks and eight strikeouts. The one hit came when Jeter singled on the second pitch of Friday's opener.

"Any time you're hitting at the top of the lineup and you get four or five plate appearances, you want to get on base," Gardner said. "With the guys that are hitting behind me, that's my job -- to get on base so they can get me in -- and I didn't do that tonight."

Gardner has been getting on base more than Jeter this season, having hit .304 with a .383 on-base percentage. Jeter, who didn't get the ball out of the infield on Saturday, stands at .267 with a .313 OBP. He's on pace for just 39 walks after earning 72 free passes last year.

Teixeira, who hits in front of Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, didn't think the struggles of Jeter and Gardner were affecting him.

"If I get up with no one on base, maybe I can work a walk, get a single, and maybe Alex or Robbie Cano can drive me in," Teixeira said. "I drive in a lot of runs, but I also get on base a lot as well and hopefully start some big innings."

Teixeira is no stranger to up-and-down stretches this season or throughout his career. He is notoriously quiet in April -- and at other less predictable times -- but has always managed to finish with excellent results.

"I'm a streaky hitter," Teixeira said. "I live off my hot streaks. Hopefully, those hot streaks last one, two months in a row. Then you have a week off. Maybe two weeks, not as good. Then you go back to having a one- or two-month hot streak. Hopefully that means the next 4 1/2 months or whatever it is are going to be really good."

Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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