Teixeira out to take care of business
Yanks slugger's methodical approach yielding dividends
NEW YORK -- Now on yet another big stage for the first time -- that being the American League Championship Series -- Mark Teixeira deflects the magnitude of all that surrounds him and doesn't even do so much as blink.
It is the day before the start of the series against Teixeira's former team, the Angels, and his locker is flooded with notebooks, tape recorders and cameras.
The media is out in full force looking to get every angle covered, and Teixeira, who has lived up to all the hype that came when he signed a $180 million deal to play with the Yankees, answers all the questions in business-like fashion for close to six minutes.
Then, he issues a gentle warning. "One more [question], guys, I've got to go to work," Teixeira informs the group.
And that's what it has been all year long during his introduction to life as a Yankee. He has gone to work and destroyed opposing pitchers, not to mention playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base.
The moments are what they are to Teixeira. To him, it is baseball, and perhaps that is why nothing feels too big for him.
"There's no fluff with Tex," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "To me, he's very organized. He knows exactly what he wants to do every day. He's always prepared. He's a great family man. He's a great teammate in the clubhouse. He likes to laugh more than you might think from looking afar. He likes to have fun. But he's meant a lot to our club besides on the field. Off the field, I think he's been real important for our club."
And on that field, Teixeira hopes to help the Yankees to their 27th World Series championship, and first since 2000.
What has he noticed about postseason baseball as a Yankee?
"It's intense," Teixeira said. "Every game is big, obviously, in the playoffs. These fans love it. This is why the fans buy their season tickets, to come out here for playoff baseball and get rowdy. It's going to be cold for the next couple of days. Hopefully, they'll warm us up a little bit."
Or perhaps Teixeira's bat will warm up a little also. In the AL Division Series sweep over the Twins, the star switch-hitter was 2-for-12. But in fitting fashion, one of his hits was a walk-off homer to win Game 2 in the 11th inning.
Whether it is about his own at-bats or his team's overall performance, Teixeira always expects the results will be favorable.
"We've played relaxed all year," Teixeira said. "We expect to win every game. We go out there and play our best, and if we don't win a game, we forget about it and move on to the next day."
Last year, Teixeira was trying to help the Angels get to the World Series, a mission that was short-circuited in a four-game ALDS loss to the Red Sox.
While the Angels certainly would have loved to retain Teixeira after his three-month stay with them in 2008, business got in the way. Seeing his old team on this stage is hardly something that caught him off-guard, especially in light of a conversation he had with Angels center fielder Torii Hunter.
"Torii and I talked a couple of times this offseason, and after I signed with the Yankees," Teixeira said. "I said, 'Good luck to you guys. Hopefully we'll see you guys in the ALCS.' We got our wish."
And now, the Angels will need to find a way to contain him for a series that could last up to seven games. They were around Teixeira enough to know what a challenge that will be.
"Tex, he's a special player," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He's a guy that we had the second half of the season and he has a lot of talent. Obviously, we wanted to re-sign him. He's had an incredible year with the Yankees, and our team is -- not that we're better off -- but we're a little deeper in some areas by not having to put resources into Mark.
"You know, we're going to have to obviously pitch very well to get through that lineup. They have a terrific offensive lineup, and obviously Tex is right in the middle of it."
Teixeira is a centerpiece of a loaded Yankees' lineup without trying to be. He's never going to be a player who's going to grab the spotlight. But his heroics often put him there.
"He really doesn't get away from his routine," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. "Every day is the same, even though he was struggling a little bit at the beginning. But he's really kept it the same. He knew he was going to hit, but he kept working at it. I really enjoy that about him."
What does Teixeira expect in this ALCS?
"It's going to be fun. It's exciting," said Teixeira. "Hopefully, it's the next step to a World Series. We've got to take care of business."
And to do that, they might want to follow the lead of the man who is all business.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.