Teixeira upbeat despite Series struggles

Teixeira upbeat despite Series struggles

NEW YORK -- There is no sawdust attached to the palms of Mark Teixeira's batting gloves, even though the temptation might be there to grip the bat tighter and escape this ugly first World Series experience at the plate.

Less than 24 hours after Teixeira missed another opportunity to delete every word being written about his struggles, striking out representing the tying run to end Game 5 of the Fall Classic, the Yankees' first baseman presented a smile and promised to keep his steady demeanor.

Why not? The Yankees still feel good about where they are, leading the Phillies three games to two. As they took the field for a workout at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Teixeira kept pushing forward with a belief that it just takes one big swing to turn everything around.

"If we were getting beat 2-1 every single game and we're not scoring any runs, and I'm leaving a boatload of guys on base, then I'm going to squeeze the life out of the bat," Teixeira said. "But my teammates have been picking me up all season.

"I've been picking them up all season. That's just the way a team works. Right now, we're in a great spot and we're up 3-2. I'm just going to go out tomorrow and have good at-bats."

While the Yankees love the position they are in, not much is going right these days for Teixeira, though he doubled and scored a run in New York's 8-6 loss in Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park.

Ryan Madson erased his latest chance for redemption with a strikeout that rang the large Liberty Bell over right-center field and cued up Harry Kalas' rendition of "High Hopes," leaving Teixeira 2-for-19 with one home run in the World Series.

"Maybe I'm expanding the zone a little bit. Maybe I'm trying to do too much," Teixeira said. "I don't know what the problem is."

In 14 games this postseason, Teixeira is 10-for-58 with two homers and seven RBIs, including what has thus far been the biggest highlight -- a game-winning blast off Joe Nathan to sink the Twins in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Almost every contributor to the Yankees' lineup has had one of those moments to point to during this run, but Teixeira has been largely contained by the Phillies, save for a Game 2 dinger off Pedro Martinez in the Bronx.

"He's had some struggles," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's hit some hits, too, some hits that have helped us. He won a game with a home run. He's struggled a little bit, but he hit a home run off of Pedro to get us going, and I'll take my chances with him every day in the lineup."

One saving grace may be that while there are few signs of the dangerous force who belted 39 homers and drove in 122 runs this year, Teixeira has not allowed it to affect his defense, which remains as slick as ever at first base.

"I've always been cognizant of the fact that you're not going to get a hit every time up," Teixeira said. "You want to hit 1.000, but if you don't, you can't take it out to the field. One strikeout in a game is not going to be the game, but one big error with men on base in the eighth inning might be the difference between a win and a loss."

The Yankees have pushed to the edge of their 27th World Series title without Teixeira's bat, but they aren't ready to declare it missing in action. Derek Jeter said that the Yankees know Teixeira has it in him, and it could appear as soon as his first at-bat of Game 6.

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

"It's one thing about the playoffs," Jeter said. "Every opportunity, every time you're up there, you have a chance to do something. You can't change anything that happened up to this point.

"If you go out there and swing the bat well, things will change. We're up three games to two and we need contributions from a lot of different people. I'm sure he's going to help out."

Added Nick Swisher: "It's amazing. Somebody kind of struggles a little bit in the postseason and it's brought to everyone's attention. I know, because I went through it. Nobody in this room doubts anybody. We know Tex is right where he needs to be. He's going to get a huge hit for us tomorrow night, no doubt about it."

Teixeira said that the on-today, off-tomorrow nature of baseball's playoffs haven't been much assistance, though he repeatedly said that he did not want to use it as a crutch. But it is a fact of life for Teixeira, a notorious slow starter who begs to stay in the lineup as a DH during the season so he does not lose his stroke.

"I don't want to make excuses," Teixeira said. "I'm not going to make excuses, because everyone has to deal with it. When you're a switch-hitter and a guy who lives off hot streaks and rhythm, it doesn't help."

Teixeira said that because he has more time to analyze his performance during the World Series, he has been retreating to the video room and taking more batting practice.

He isn't sure if it could be working against him, and sounded like he might welcome the days of summer, when the Yankees could play for two weeks uninterrupted by mandatory workout days and schedules mandated by national television.

There will be time for that come April, of course. What Teixeira needs to do is find a way to make November work for him.

"When you're in a rhythm during the season, you're going to fail seven out of 10 times," Teixeira said. "When you're not in a rhythm, you're going to fail a lot more than that. Unfortunately for me, that's been the case right now. Tomorrow is a new day and hopefully I'll help out."

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