New York Yankees

With Mark Teixeira in danger of missing the rest of the season with a shin injury, the Yankees are further in danger of losing the division race.

By Bryan Pol

According to and contributor Wallace Matthews, first baseman Mark Teixeira will be out two more weeks with a bone bruise, initially aggravated in an 8-7 victory against the Twins on August 17, when the slugger took a foul ball off his leg.

Since the incident, Teixeira underwent an X-ray, an MRI, and a CT scan, all of which resoundingly turned up no structural damage.  With rookie sensation Greg Bird in his stead, Teixeira has not gotten any better, and doctors suggested he endure more tests in light of swelling and inflammation still being an issue.

“His bone bruise has not healed in any way, shape or form,” Brian Cashman said of his star first baseman, a prime reason behind the Yankees’ remaining in the playoff hunt.  “It’s taking a hell of a lot longer than we would have expected.” 

In the interim, Teixeira will be immobilized and be forced to make his way around the clubhouse on crutches for a yet-to-be determined time frame, with a strong possibility of his not playing the rest of the year, playoffs included.

There is no denying Mark Teixeira’s impact on the Yankees.

Since the injury, by which Teixeira only featured in two games as a pinch hitter, both losses to the Houston Astros, the Yankees have gone a respectable 7-6, with a three-game, dominating sweep against the Braves, by which the Bombers outscored Atlanta 38-11.  Even so, Greg Bird, who earned a curtain call by hitting two home runs, the first of his major league career, in a 4-3 win against the Twins on August 19, has fizzled, hitting only .250, going homerless in every start he made the rest of the way in August, a far cry from the 31 homers Teixeira managed before his untimely injury.

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All told, Teixeira was a major cause behind the Yankees’ resurgence, even despite Alex Rodriguez’s recent struggles.  In 2015, Teixeira was getting on-base at a .357 clip, his best rate since 2009 (.383), when he finished second in AL MVP voting, leading the league in home runs (39), RBI (122), and total bases (344) en route to a World Series championship.  In the American League, Teixeira is sixth in slugging percentage (.548),  seventh in OPS (.906), tied for seventh in homers (31, with Toronto’s Jose Bautista), tied for eighth in walks (59, with Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion), and fourth in adjusted OPS+ (149).  Without question, he leads the Yankees in each of those categories.

Should Teixeira, in fact, miss the remainder of the season, the Yankees face the imminent danger of not only losing the American League East, but perhaps missing the playoffs entirely with the Texas Rangers at their heels, dangerous considering their in-it-to-win-it trade for ace Cole Hamels, 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA since joining the team.  Presently, the Rangers are a game ahead of the Twins for the AL’s second wild card spot.

With the Blue Jays continuing their torrid ways (their 21 wins in the month of August were the most wins in a single month since the Athletics won 22 in 2002), the Yankees, a mere 1.5 games behind the Jays in the American League East, are still in the hunt to reclaim the division, but might be of the mindset to settle for the wild card if Teixeira does not come back.

In 2012, a similar injury felled Derek Jeter.  Early in September, Jeter received a cortisone shot that allowed him to play with a bone bruise in his leg, but over time, the ankle eroded, ultimately resulting in his breaking it in the ALDS against the Orioles, forcing the Captain to miss 145 games in 2013.

While the Yankees would be wise to let time heal Teixeira’s shin, doing so will ultimately cost the Yankees in the end, as they have not made the postseason since 2012.

And to think, the Bombers were once worried about where to stash Bird when Teixeira returned.  By the look of things, that “when” suddenly becomes a harrowing “if.”

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I am an English teacher, music and film aficionado, husband, father of two delightful boys, writer, sports fanatic, former Long Islander, and follower of Christ. Based on my Long Island upbringing, I was groomed as a Yankees, Giants, Rangers, and Knicks fan, and picked up Duke basketball, Notre Dame football, and Tottenham Hotspur football fandom along the way.