03/26/08 5:07 PM ET
Subpar spring may mean hot Teixeira
Slugger's past indicates first baseman will have strong year
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Before hitting 43 homers and collecting 144 RBIs in his career-best 2005 season with the Rangers, Teixeira didn't exactly provide indication of what was to come. During the Cactus League season that year, he hit .226 (12-for-53) with one homer and eight RBIs.
Those projecting the Braves' first baseman to have another monster year before heading into the free-agent market at the end of this season might be pleased to know this year's Spring Training stats are nearly identical. Entering Thursday's Grapefruit League finale, Teixeira is hitting .216 (11-for-51) with two homers and 10 RBIs.
Teixeira elevated his stats to that level with a two-hit performance in Wednesday's 10-2 win over the Nationals at Disney's Champion Stadium. He hit a two-run fourth-inning homer and added a sixth-inning double.
"I feel good," Teixeira said. "I never get a lot of hits in Spring Training. Spring Training results for me don't matter as much as getting my work in and getting my body ready for 162 games."
Teixeira's only statistically impressive spring came in 2003, when he hit .322 (29-for-90) with seven homers and earned his first spot on a Major League roster. It's safe to say the veteran switch-hitter's approach was different that year than it is now.
"You can go out there and try to get a hit every day and then get made and change something," Teixeira said. "This isn't the time for that. This is a time to really get yourself locked in and work on things you need to work on. If you get hits, great. I'm not going to beat myself up for not hitting .400 this spring."
Because he hit .317 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs in the 54 games he played after being acquired by the Braves at last year's trade deadline, it's tough to pinpoint specific room for improvement. But Teixeira said he entered camp looking for the consistency he's occasionally lacked throughout his career.
"My seasons are always roller-coaster rides," Teixeira said. "I'd love to be able to just have a consistent year, where every day my team can count on me to give some good at-bats, get on base and drive in runs."
Just days away from entering what might be the most important season of his career, Teixeira said that he's still not feeling pressure about the fact that he might be next offseason's most attractive free agent. He credits that to the Braves' clubhouse atmosphere.
"This team has a chance to win and that's what's great," Teixeira said. "Teams that don't have a chance to win, they're always talking about the future. The best thing about this team is that our most important game is Sunday night in Washington and that's what I'm concentrating on."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.