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Yankees' Mark Teixeira out 8-10 weeks

6:02 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA - It's almost certain the New York Yankees will eventually field a lineup that includes Derek Jeter at shortstop, Curtis Granderson in center field, Mark Teixeira at first base - and maybe even Alex Rodriguez at third.

But an offseason in which the club allowed 112 home runs from its 2012 lineup to vanish via free agency and Rodriguez's hip surgery has been followed by the spring of a thousand nicks.

While few tears will be shed for a team with an American League-high payroll of $206 million, concerns are growing the club will have enough offense to get by after years when it counted heavily on the home run.

Teixeira's injury is worse than first diagnosed. A strained right wrist he suffered Monday will sideline him for at least 8-10 weeks - much longer than two weeks first diagnosed. This will definitely hamper his power hitting for a more extended period. It had the Yankees pondering the logistics of how to match the 804 runs they scored last year, when they won 95 games and narrowly claimed the AL East.

"I know we lost a lot of power in the offseason. We knew that going in," starting pitcher Andy Petttitte told USA TODAY Sports. "Now, you talk about losing Teixeira and Granderson at the start of the season, it changes things even more. Bottom line is, I still feel like we're going to figure out ways to score runs, and that's going to be on our offense and Joe to figure out how to do that, and be creative in different ways."

That will be a new tack for the Yankees. Their 245 home runs were 31 more than any major league team, and marked the third time in four years they led the majors in longballs. Now, the concern is not so much the homers lost from Rodriguez's hip surgery and the departures of Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones.

Rather, it's how will the wrist hamper Teixeira - who hit 24 homers in 123 games last year - when he returns? And how long will it take Granderson to revive a power stroke that produced a team-high 45 home runs in 2012, only to have him suffer a fractured right forearm when he was hit by the first pitch he saw this spring?

"I'm obviously worried about it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters Tuesday night. "Wrists are very unpredictable. Even if you can get a positive diagnosis back - which of course we're going to hope for - that still doesn't mean we're out of the woods, because wrists are tricky.

Wednesday morning, Granderson exuded his usual eternal optimism bubbling despite the soft cast that extended down his forearm to his fingers.

But his mood briefly dimmed when he learned the nature of Teixeira's injury, having only seen on a television graphic that the first baseman would miss a couple of weeks.

"A wrist? Ooh," Granderson said, with a grimace. "Damn. Hopefully he'll be back sooner rather than later."

But when both Teixeira and Granderson return, the nature of their injuries figure to hamper them for some period - particularly their power production.

"In our sport, unlike any other, from the elbow down, if anything's bothering you, you can't play," Granderson said. "Sore knee, sore back, shoulder, I could probably muscle everything out here. But from here down - you can't touch the ball, can't throw it, can't swing it, that's what changes things out.

"I've got to swing, and how is that going to be since it is the pull hand? The good thing is, it's not any of the wrist bones, so nothing has to rotate. Once that locks in, it should be good."

Teixeira is not as fortunate. Any extended absence would further force the Yankees to rely on veterans expected to play bit roles, like DH Travis Hafner, outfielder Juan Rivera and utilityman Eduardo Nunez.

As for Jeter? His 2012 ended in grim fashion when he suffered a fractured ankle in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. He's been about the only source of good news in this camp, as he only has to run the bases at full speed to be cleared for game action. That may happen this weekend, and Jeter remains confident he'll be ready on opening day.

He's well aware the greater question involves who will join him - and how effective they will be.

"The good teams find ways to get it done," Jeter said. "That's what you have to do.

"In terms of Teix? I hope he's not out long."

USA Today

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