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Inbox: Is bunting in Teixeira's future?

Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers Yankees fans' questions

Inbox: Is bunting in Teixeira's future?
With other teams putting the shift on for Mark Teixeira, why wouldn't he bunt? Mickey Mantle was a home run hitter, and he would bunt when needed.
-- Rick R., Calgary

It is true that The Mick knew how to use the bunt as a weapon, especially in the early years of his career before injuries took an increasing toll on his knees. Teixeira was never blessed with Mantle's kind of speed, but he did talk a lot last spring about wanting to bunt, saying he'd like to plant it in opponents' minds to keep defenses more honest.

So what happened? Teixeira was asked that question after he went through the entire spring and regular season bunt-free, and Teixeira explained that he'd just been having some fun with the media. He said that he never intended to bunt, and doesn't believe he's bunted in a game since he was 11 years old.

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"The older I get, and this is going to be my 11th year, the more I realize there's very little that you can control," Teixeira said. "I want to hit the ball hard every time up, I want to backspin balls for home runs, I want to hit line drives for singles and doubles. I want to play great defense. Other than that, where they play, we talked about it ad nauseum the first couple months of the year.

"I tried [hitting the other way]," he continued. "I tried it at the end of last year, I tried it at the beginning of this year. It didn't work. Most really good players that are consistent, they don't change things in the middle of their career. That just doesn't really make lot of sense."

During the American League Championship Series, when the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera was giving Teixeira plenty of room down the third-base line -- a check-swing roller probably would have produced a free hit -- Joe Girardi said that he understood Teixeira's reluctance to try bunting.

"I think it's a smart play if you're comfortable doing it, and you feel that you can be successful doing it," Girardi said. "But I don't think he's comfortable doing it; I don't think he feels he can be successful. I think he feels he has a better chance to get a hit or get on some other way, and I respect that."

How much would the Yankees have to give up for Justin Upton? Is he on the radar?
-- Craig C., Seattle

If there was a match to be made between the Yankees and the D-backs, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers would be one of the first to see it; Towers and Yankees GM Brian Cashman are quite friendly and Towers spent the 2010 season with the Yankees as a special assignment scout before the D-backs hired him in September.

Unfortunately for Yankees fans clamoring to see Upton in the Opening Day lineup, the two clubs don't appear to line up. It has been reported that Arizona looked at the Yankees' organization and saw little of interest, with a lack of high-end talent ready to jump in at the big league level. It'd be a tough sell for the Yankees to match the package that nearly clicked for the Mariners in their talks with Arizona.

The Yankees have some interesting prospects, but they're also dealing with pitching that brings injury concerns (Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos, for example) or is still very young, and the better position-player prospects (Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin) are still at the lower levels.

What does the Yankees' bench look like as of right now? What are the odds that they use some younger guys to fill out the bench?
-- Anthony D., Rotterdam, N.Y.

It's a work-in-progress, but as of right now you can plan on Chris Stewart being the backup catcher to Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine. Russ Canzler, a waiver claim from the Indians, can help at the infield and outfield corners, while Eduardo Nunez has a chance to make the club in a utility role. A right-handed hitter who can play some outfield is still on the shopping list, and Matt Diaz has a Minor League deal to be among the choices for that role. Jayson Nix, a familiar name from last season, is also still in the organization.

In terms of the farm system, players like David Adams, Corban Joseph, Ronnier Mustelier and Melky Mesa should get a look during the spring -- especially the first three names, who should be on alert as fill-in third basemen if anything happens to Kevin Youkilis. With Robinson Cano playing in the World Baseball Classic, there'll be more extra infield innings to go around in Yankees camp.

There will be more additions to the list, but likely on a smaller scale. Cashman said that while the team has had some success finding players late in the process (Raul Ibanez, for example, didn't even sign his deal until late February), "the available pool is not as deep as in previous winters. There's not as many choices to gravitate to."

Any chance the Yankees make a push for someone like Shaun Marcum?
-- Aaron C., Ontario

It doesn't appear to be a fit. The Yankees spent big pitching money early in the winter to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda ($15 million) and Andy Pettitte ($12 million), and just avoided arbitration with Phil Hughes ($7.15 million) while having CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and David Phelps on board. Marcum has a decent amount of interest on the open market, and there's little reason to think the Yankees would spend anything substantial to bring a seventh starter into the mix.

Do you think that Alex Rodriguez will enter in the 3,000-hit club?
-- Derek S., New York

Something would have to go horribly wrong for this not to happen, considering A-Rod is under contract through 2017. I wanted to include this question to point out one thing that hasn't received much attention at all, for a variety of reasons: A-Rod is just 99 hits away from joining Derek Jeter as the only players to reach 3,000 hits in a Yankees uniform.

It's going to happen sooner or later, but even though A-Rod's best case is a July return, it may be too early to say for sure if we'll see his odometer roll past 3,000 in 2013. Given how muted the celebration for A-Rod's 600th homer was in comparison to No. 500, which came before his admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs, it'll be very interesting to see how the milestone is handled and received.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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