New York Yankees: Explanations for Mark Teixeira's Early Struggles
But as is the case with most struggling players, eventually everyone starts to notice and then the spotlight is turned squarely on that player.
Normally, Tex begins to pick it up in May after a bad April, but he hasn't even done that in 2012. Instead, his struggles continue at the plate and it's left the Yankees and their fans asking how this could be happening.
Let's take a look at some of the possible reasons for Teixeira's ineptitude in the batter's box this season.
He's Just Not That Good
No, this can't be it.
Tex has always been a great bat, especially in the power department.
The Bombers' first baseman has hit 25 or more home runs in each and every year of his career up until this point.
Before joining the Yanks, he was normally around a .300 average every season which culminated with a .292 average in his first season in pinstripes. Since then, Tex hasn't even come near the .300 mark after hitting .256 and .248 the past two seasons.
Even with those bad averages, however, Tex has still produced offensively by driving in a ton of runs.
Teixeira's career numbers are just too good to sit here and say that Tex himself just isn't that good.
Teixeira is currently 32 years old and that is a pretty early age to start breaking down for a Major League Baseball player. That is, of course, unless that player has been plagued with injuries their entire career.
Tex has never played in less than 132 games in a season during his entire career. He's been able to stay relatively injury-free and there's no reason to suspect that his body is breaking down now.
If he was a catcher, I could understand.
But Tex is a first baseman and it simply isn't a position that causes a player to lose their physical edge at a faster rate. He is simply too young to use age as an excuse.
Maybe it's the pressure that's getting to Teixeira.
As I mentioned before, his struggles are no longer on the back burner and instead, they are a popular topic for discussion amongst Yankee fans and pundits.
It started with his postseason lack of success and now it's moved to the regular season. It appears that as the spotlight has been turned on and shined brighter in the face of Tex, his numbers at the plate have gotten worse.
Tex might be trying too hard to get his average back to where it was earlier in his career in one swing. That could be enough to screw with any hitter's head and that could lead to the type of problems Tex currently has.
Manager Joe Girardi nearly sat Teixeira for the entirety of the Yanks' series with the Cincinnati Reds after Tex failed to recover from a bronchial infection which was something he had been battling for a month, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPN.com.
Mark Teixeira has been plagued by a bronchial infection for about a month now, and after considering it for a few days, Joe Girardi has finally decided to give him a night off. Teixeira, who had played in 37 of the team's first 38 games, is not in the lineup tonight against the Reds. In his place, Nick Swisher will play first base and Raul Ibanez, tonight's left fielder, will bat fifth.
Out of all the explanations you can give for Tex's issues, this one might have some legs. I can't imagine it's too easy to battle through such an infection and still be able to concentrate at the plate.
Again, his average is nothing new, but his lack of power is.
In 2011, Tex has 10 home runs and 22 RBI in the month of May. This year, he has two homers and eight RBI in the same month. Unless he turns on the jets, Teixeira will fall well short of what he did in the second month of last season.
Tex's condition is really the only difference about him from last season. That's why I tend to lean on this as a major contributing factor to his struggles.
If that bronchial infection isn't going away and Tex continues to struggle, there is no point in keeping him out there. This is a long season and it's better off for both sides if Tex sits and recovers from his ailment.
Clearly, he's important to this team on both sides of the ball, but if Tex and the Bombers don't take care of this now, it could ruin their first baseman's entire season. And if that happens, it doesn't help anyone, the Yanks included.
Girardi has always been a cautious manager when it comes to injuries and if this was still a problem, I'm sure the Yanks' manager would make the right move.
Work With Kevin Long
All the speculation about the possible firing of Yankees' hitting coach, Kevin Long, is premature at best. Long has done a great job with some of the Yanks' struggling bats over the past few years.
In fact, Curtis Granderson attributes his career-best success as a member of the Yankees to working with Long.
Maybe it's time for Tex change his approach with the help of Long.
One thing Long has done is help hitters by steadying their bat in their stance. I've noticed Tex has yet to take that approach and it's a potential step in the right direction for him.
I don't tend to be a hitting expert and even in my Little League days, I was more of a defensive asset to a team.
However, it's clear for anyone to see that Tex has problems and something has got to change. No matter how much success any player has had in their career, adjustments can always be made to improve.
Tex certainly fits into that description.
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