Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira took a big step toward a return on Monday when he went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk during a simulated game against minor leaguers.
This is indeed a big step, but it’s not one that signals that he’s fine. First of all, this is not even an Extended Spring Training game yet. So it’s not like he’s poised to begin playing in rehab games just yet. First is probably another simulated game or two, or three, and then he’d probably play in a few Extended Spring Training games.
Only after that, which will take at least another week, will Teixeira get to the point where he begins his official 30-day rehab clock with one of the Yankees minor league teams.
Once Teixeira gets to the point where he is playing in actual rehab games, he’s still going to be prone to a setback. Keep in mind that this is a wrist injury which is a big deal for hitters, especially power hitters. Not only a wrist injury, but a torn tendon sheath which is even more notorious for setbacks.
This is something the Yankees are well aware of. That’s why they’ve been taking it slowly with the injury despite the fact that Teixeira himself predicted that he’d be ready by May 1 and, more recently, when he didn’t reach that date predicted June 1 (another date he’s going to miss).
“Unfortunately with his circumstance, you’ve got to go through the entire process,” Brian Cashman told Ken Davidoff of the NY Post.
“Until (Teixeira) is actually rehabbing in games…we’ll hold our breath for a while, and then he’ll go through spring training. If that goes fine, then I’ll believe at we’re OK. But prior to that, I’m not gonna count my chickens yet.”
“(He) is the one that, I could tell you, until he goes through that rehab-game process, you can’t really say he’s declared himself out of the woods,” Cashman said. “But I know he feels really good. I know he feels strongly that this is going to be successful, and that’s great.
“That’s worth something, but at the end of the day, I’ve bee disappointed before. So think the worst and hope for the best.”
For what it’s worth, the Yankees actually have more incentive than just another setback to keep him on the DL. Teixeira hurt himself while taking batting practice for the World Baseball Classic. As part of the tournament’s agreement with MLB, the WBC is paying Teixeira’s salary while he’s out.
So taking Teixeira’s rehab slowly does a couple things. It helps them to avoid a setback, which is still a realistic possibility, and it saves them a few dollars. Best of all, if he does have a setback and requires season ending surgery, the Yankees won’t have to pay any of the $23 million that he is owed this season.
• Another rehabbing Yankee, Michael Pineda, threw an Extended Spring Training game on Saturday and got “strong reviews” as he threw 51 pitches. The expectation is that he’ll pitch in two more extended games before being sent to a minor league affiliate for his rehab assignment. That puts him at about 40 days away from a return to the Bronx.
• Ivan Nova also threw an extended game on Monday. It’s possible that will be his last rehab appearance before a Bronx return. With the way David Phelps has been pitching lately it wouldn’t surprise me if they gave him one start at Triple-A (or somewhere) before activating him.
• Cashman called Eduardo Nunez 10 days away before they can even think about his return.
• Former Yankees reliever Scott Proctor has officially decided to retire from baseball. Proctor had two stints with the Yankees after he was traded to the Bronx as part of the Robin Ventura deal in 2003. In five seasons in Pinstripes he had a 4.51 ERA, a 7.4 K/9, and a 4.0 BB/9.
• Remember when George Steinbrenner was alive and the Yankees didn’t wear stupid gimmicky hats? That’s the atrocity that they’ll be wearing on Memorial Day.