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Girardi gives Teixeira a breather

Girardi gives Teixeira a breather

BALTIMORE -- The second halves of Mark Teixeira's last two big league seasons have featured generally disruptive interruptions, as the switch-hitting first baseman was traded to contending clubs.

Now, locked into an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees, Teixeira can relax and know that there is no such event on the horizon. Teixeira has kept playing for the Yankees, who finally offered him a day of rest to recharge on Wednesday.

"I really think there's not enough off-days in a big league season for as many games as we play," Teixeira said. "If you can get, [in] this stretch of the season, one day off a week, I think everyone will really benefit from that."

Teixeira knew on Tuesday that he was not going to be in the lineup after manager Joe Girardi floated the idea of an off-day, part of his plan to rest his regulars and keep them fresh in the waning days of the regular season.

So Teixeira slept in and was able to generally enjoy most of his day, having earned that breather with 32 home runs -- second in the American League -- and a circuit-pacing 101 RBIs.

"I think guys see that when they do get a day off, a lot of times they come back stronger and it does benefit them," Girardi said. "I appreciate the guys wanting to play every day and not come out of the lineup, but the last thing we want to do is wear our players down at this time of year."

Having rested Alex Rodriguez in the series opener on Monday, Girardi gave Hideki Matsui a break on Tuesday before sitting Teixeira and Jorge Posada for Wednesday's series finale.

Girardi said that he would "try not to abuse" his players on the artificial turf of Rogers Centre in Toronto, where the Yankees head next, saying that he will attempt to keep his players from playing four games in a row there as well.

The Yankees' 6 1/2-game advantage in the AL East allows them this flexibility.

"You have to be smart, because at some point it becomes counterproductive running the guys out there every day," Girardi said. "That's the thing about knowing your players and watching them closely and communicating with them when they need a blow. Where we are right now is a little different than it was last year, but we still approach every game the same. We need to win today."

The upcoming schedule will help Girardi keep his players sharp and fresh. The major bump ahead is a Sept. 7 doubleheader against the Rays at Yankee Stadium, but as soon as that is over, the Yankees will enjoy every Thursday off this month, beginning on Sept. 10.

"This is our last long stretch, which is really nice," he said. "That's a luxury to have in September, where you can spell guys and play guys six days in a row knowing you have a day off. If we get through this stretch and that doubleheader on Monday, we'll be in a pretty good situation with days off."

There was a thought that Posada benefited from resting to nurse a bruised left thumb last week, as he belted two homers in Tuesday's 9-6 victory over the Orioles.

Likewise, Teixeira said that he is acutely aware of his better second-half numbers (.302 average, compared with .277 before the All-Star break) and said that a few days off couldn't possibly hurt going into October.

"I'm always a good second-half player," Teixeira said. "I always feel really good at this point in this season, so I feel as good as I have my whole career."

Bryan Hoch 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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