Teammates call for Teixeira support
Players say slugger's numbers worthy of All-Star nod
Ask Mark Teixeira about a potential All-Star selection and the Rangers' first baseman usually smiles before responding with a cordial answer that more often than not involves the words "team" and "winning."
It's not that appearing in his first All-Star Game is not important to the Major League leader in homers and runs scored, because it is. It's just that he has other things to worry about at the moment, like catching the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League West standings, so he's not really in the mood for campaigning.
That's fine. What Teixeira and his teammates are doing on the field these days speak volumes. His play and his teammates' words are expressing what the Texas first baseman refuses to say: Teixeira deserves an All-Star selection.
"He should be hands-down the unanimous starter in the American League -- bottom line," said Rangers All-Star infielder Hank Blalock, who ranks fourth in voting among AL third baseman. "Hitting behind him, I have really seen how he is such a phenomenal player. What he has done offensively kind of makes his defense get overlooked, but he is about as good at first base as you can get."
Teixeira trails Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez for the top spot in votes among American League first baseman by 44,708 votes. The Rangers concluded in-stadium voting Sunday. Online balloting continues until midnight ET on Thursday, June 30.
"Tino is New York, and he's getting 8 1/2 million people voting for him every day, which is great," Rangers outfielder David Dellucci said. "But Teixeira is here and he is quietly getting it done. There are guys in the league doing that, like Bobby Abreu, and I hope Tex gets recognized for what he is doing."
Here is what Teixeira is doing. He's hitting .296 with 56 RBIs, and after his 20th homer and 54th run scored of the season on Sunday, he took over the top spot in the Majors in both categories, while those 56 RBIs are tied for third in the AL. Over his last 29 games, he is hitting .345 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs with 28 runs scored, raising his average from .260.
"Mark takes pride in all phases of the game," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "He is a complete player. He plays first base as good as you can play and he should win a Gold Glove. He is very open to any way to get better."
Teixeira appreciates the praise, he's just not getting caught up in it. He never has. He never will.
"You never play for All-Star Games," Teixeira said. "Awards that are voted on by people are kind of icing on top of the cake. Winning games is the most important thing."
Joining Teixeira near the top of the list at their respective positions is second baseman Alfonso Soriano. Soriano, who trails Baltimore's Brian Roberts for the top spot in votes at the position, is tied for second in the AL in home runs with Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Last year's All-Star Game MVP is hitting .300 with 46 RBIs and is one off Teixeira's pace for the big league lead in runs scored with 53.
The three-time All-Star would love to return to the Midsummer Classic. He would also like plenty of company and just might get his wish. Rangers shortstop Michael Young, an All-Star last season, is fifth in votes among AL shortstops this season.
Young, who is hitting .317 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs this season, called Teixeira a "lock" for the All-Star Game. Soriano went even further.
"The most important thing for Mark is that he is very young and he has a lot of good years ahead of him," Soriano said. "He's a very good player right now. In three or four more years, he can be the next Mark McGwire."
Perhaps, but being Mark Teixeira has been pretty good so far. As a rookie in 2003, Teixeira hit .259 with 26 home runs and 84 RBIs before winning a Silver Slugger Award at first base in 2004, coming off a season that saw him hit 38 home runs and rack up 112 RBIs.
The slugger had committed one error in his first 65 games this season.
"We all ought to be ashamed of ourselves if Tex does not make it because of what he is doing," Dellucci said. "I think we take for granted that guys like Tex, Michael Young, Hank and Sori are good enough to do it every year, but what Tex is doing is very special. We should do everything we can to get him awarded for what he is doing."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.