Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.
TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has suffered over recent years. The powerful lefty has seen defenses shift to his pull side, robbing him of potential hits.
On Wednesday, Teixeira said he had a plan to beat the shift. But it wasn’t the most conventional approach.
“Hit more home runs, hit more doubles, and walk more,” the first baseman told reporters in the George M. Steinbrenner Field clubhouse.
In other words, Teixeria wants to beat the shift with brute strength rather than by trying to hit the ball to all fields.
That approach, Teixeira said, would rob him of his natural strength — his ability to crush balls into the right-field seats — and play into a defense’s wishes. Purposely the ball the other way, Teixeira said, would mean weaker hits to the other side.
“We’ve talked about it ad nauseam,” he said. “Every time I try to slap the ball the other way, it doesn’t go well for anybody. That’s what the other team wants. They want to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter.
“So if I can hit more home runs, more doubles, walk more, that takes care of the shift. I don’t want to ground out to second base. That’s not what I’m trying to do up there.”
That sentiment appears in line with manager Joe Girardi’s view on attacking defensive shifts, which have also taken away hits from catcher Brian McCann and second baseman Stephen Drew, both lefties. The manager said he won’t be approaching players and “asking you to be something you’re not.”
“We’ve talked about it as an organization,” Joe Girardi said. “We will discuss things with players. This is the adjustment defenses have made, and we need to make (offensive) adjustments too … I’m not going to ask you to do something that you’re not comfortable doing, but it’s something that we need to have discussions about and see how we attack it.”
New hitting coach Jeff Pentland said that while it’s important for players try try to use all fields, they can’t “force things.”
“Obviously the ability to use the whole field is important,” said Pentland, who replaced Kevin Long this offseason. “I’m not going to stand here and tell you we’re going to try to force things through the infield or through the shift. We’ve still got to go up there and hit the ball, but there are things we’ll spend time on.”