11/09/07 12:10 PM ET
Teixeira chats with ChopTalk
First baseman goes over offseason, half-season with Braves
By Patty Rasmussen / ChopTalk Magazine
Mark Teixeira: I was excited. There are a lot of teams you may not want to be traded to, but Atlanta was definitely a team I was happy to come play for. I was here for college at Georgia Tech, and even spent a year (living) here after college. That made the comfort level that much greater. My wife, Leigh, and her family are from (Georgia, Habersham County north of Atlanta), and we both went to school here and still have friends living in Atlanta.
CT: What was your impression when you arrived? It seemed like a pretty seamless adjustment, as if you'd always been here.
Teixeira: No one has ever said something bad about the Braves organization, and I'm being completely honest. The reaction I've had from teammates, coaches, fans was what I expected. I knew a few of the guys. I played with Jeff Francoeur and Chipper Jones in the World Baseball Classic (in 2006), and I'd played against Matt Diaz in the American League and even played against him in college when he was at Florida State University. I knew a few other guys just from being around the game. They've all been great.
CT: Until the trade, you'd always played in the American League. Were there any surprises coming to the National League?
Teixeira: The toughest thing is facing relievers I don't know. I only get to face them once a game, and not knowing their pitches has been a bit of an adjustment.
CT: How do you approach that unknown, like pitchers and their stuff? Do you watch a lot of tape? Focus on the game from the dugout?
Teixeira: Watching tape only does so much. Until you're actually up there, you don't know what that pitch is going to do. The best thing to do is to concentrate on the strike zone and only swing at strikes. There's definitely a "book" on hitters, and it's easier (for pitchers) to pitch to hitters they don't know rather than (hitters) facing a pitcher they don't know. With pitchers, it's all their arm angles, their speed, their delivery, what their pitches do -- sinking, cutting. There are a lot of factors that go into it.
CT: So what's the biggest difference for you? And have you enjoyed playing in the NL?
Teixeira: It's a different game. There's more bunting, more substitutions, and I think the game is much more fun in the NL. Games are shorter, and there's more strategy. I like it.
CT: How would you describe yourself away from the game, off the field?
Teixeira: I'm very laid back. I don't go out. When I have free time, I spend it with my family. I like to play golf and lie around and watch football on weekends. I'm just a normal guy.
CT: Which do you prefer, college or pro football?
Teixeira: More college than NFL, but once the playoffs start, I really lock in on the NFL.
CT: Do you have a favorite NFL team? You grew up in the Baltimore area...
Teixeira: When you live in Dallas for five years, it's tough not to be a Cowboys fan. We didn't have a team (in Baltimore) when I grew up. The Ravens didn't get there until I was in college.
CT: What about the Washington Redskins?
Teixeira: Even though Baltimore and Washington are separated by 30 miles, they really are worlds apart. I don't think I've ever cheered for the Redskins.
CT: What else do you enjoy doing when you've got down time?
Teixeira: I love movies. I do more movies at home now because we have children, but my wife and I love catching up on movies. I'm a big fan of mysteries, solving-a-crime-type movies. Movies that make you think are fun to me.
CT: Do you enjoy reading?
Teixeira: I do. I actually read more during the season when we're on flights and on the road. I read and like all non-fiction. I like history, reading biographies, mainly to learn about the times and places when people lived. I read a biography of Charles Lindbergh and Howard Hughes. I read about baseball players -- Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig. The last really good book I read was "Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness." The reason I read it was because I'd seen the movie, "The Aviator." It was a great movie, and then I picked up the book and it was fantastic. (Hughes') life is pretty amazing.
CT: You lived in the Annapolis, Md., area. Was your dad in the military?
Teixeira: Yes, he was in the Navy and went to the Naval Academy (USNA).
CT: Did you move around a bit as a kid or was that before your time?
Teixeira: I lived in Maryland my whole life. The Navy life was before my time. We basically had a "normal" life growing up. I did go to a bunch of Navy football games, basketball games, a few baseball games. We were definitely involved in Navy sports.
CT: Did you consider attending any of the service academies?
Teixeira: I did, until I realized that baseball could be a future for me. If I hadn't wanted to play Major League Baseball, I definitely would have looked at going to the (Naval) Academy, because it's a solid education and the military commitment aspect didn't concern me. I know what (being in the military) did for my father and my uncles, who also went to military academies (USNA and the Air Force Academy). Once I started getting recruited by colleges and pro scouts, I knew I'd probably go to college somewhere other than an academy.
CT: You ended up at Georgia Tech, a school with a well-respected baseball program, but also an academically challenging school. What did you study?
Teixeira: My major was business management, which was -- I don't want to say the easiest, because it wasn't easy -- but the least intimidating major at Tech. The math and science classes were precursors to the engineering courses. The science courses at Tech are very tough. Leigh really helped me out with technology. We had an information technology class where she helped, as well as the economics classes that used computers (where) she had to help me out.
CT: How did you and Leigh meet?
Teixeira: We met at a party on campus. As soon as I met her, I knew I wasn't going to let her go. That was at the end of my freshman year, and we dated the whole time through college. We got married in December 2002.
CT: You live in Texas in the offseason?
Teixeira: Right. We live in Westlake, Texas, about 30 minutes from Arlington. We're planning to stay there for the foreseeable future. We love where we live. For now, with two little ones, it's too crazy to be moving. We like our home, and we have great friends. So, for now, that's where we'll stay.
CT: Who's your best friend in baseball?
Teixeira: David Dellucci (Cleveland left fielder). I played two years with him in Texas (2004-05). We still keep in contact and try to see each other as much as we can.
CT: Other than welcoming a new baby, do you and Leigh have any plans for this offseason?
Teixeira: That's pretty much the plan. I need to spend time with the family, relax and work out. I'll play some golf. I'll visit family a little bit or they'll come to us.
Patty Rasmussen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.