Tex and Tino: Cut from the same cloth?
A-Rod likens current and former Yanks first basemen
CLEVELAND -- Alex Rodriguez really couldn't go wrong, pulling out a pair of the most popular Yankees names from the dynasty seasons to pin a description on Mark Teixeira.
"Mark's phenomenal," Rodriguez said after Saturday's 10-5 victory over the Indians. "To me, Mark is a combination of Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill. He just brings so much to this team, so much to this clubhouse. His makeup is one that's very impressive."
Teixeira hasn't done much of the helmet throwing or water-cooler bashing that endeared O'Neill to New York, but there have been flashes of Teixeira's intensity at times. Drawing a parallel between Teixeira and Martinez may be easier, and certainly not a coincidence.
A smooth-fielding first baseman with the Yankees from 1996-2001 and again in 2005, Martinez was in camp this spring as a guest instructor and spoke to Teixeira in the midst of his early-season struggles before a May 15 game in New York.
Martinez would know plenty about Teixeira's situation. He also scuffled upon first donning pinstripes in 1996, replacing a legend in the recently retired Don Mattingly, but eventually settled in and made his own impact in Yankee lore as the Yankees won four of the next five World Series titles.
"[He told me] just to be yourself, have fun," Teixeira said. "Tino is just a great guy and was a great player. We hit it off right away. He knows the kind of player I am, and I think he just wanted me to get back to being me."
It may have been coincidence, or directly attributable to Alex Rodriguez's return to the lineup earlier in the month. Whatever the reason, Teixeira put a 4-for-4, four-RBI game on the Twins the next day and has hit .413 (26-for-63) with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in his 15 games entering play Sunday since Martinez's pep talk.
"I love Tino," Teixeira said. "Maybe just seeing him and seeing his smiling face put a little pep in my step, I don't know. It seemed like from that point on, I started seeing the ball real well and putting some good swings on it."
Teixeira was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a double in New York's victory on Saturday, helping them win for the fourth time in five games on this trip. Teixeira is riding a season-high 12-game hitting streak and said that he is looking for the production to keep coming.
"I hope this is me for the rest of the year," Teixeira said. "I feel good from both sides of the plate, which doesn't happen very much. Usually it's right-handed feels good, and left-handed is struggling, or it's back and forth. But right now, I feel pretty good."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.