Teixeira arrives at camp, eyes a repeat
Slugger eager to duplicate success in second year with Yanks
TAMPA, Fla. -- Finally, Mark Teixeira not only had the opportunity to enjoy a winter without worrying about finding a new team or a new home, but he could also kick back and relax while calling himself a World Series champion.
When the Yankees first baseman dropped off his bags Tuesday in a familiar corner of George M. Steinbrenner Field, Teixeira said that the championship ride has come to an end. It is time to get ready to defend that title, and Teixeira said that it will not be an issue for this team.
"Because we're the Yankees," Teixeira said. "If you get complacent, it's going to be a tough year for you. Once you taste a championship and taste that victory, it just makes you want it even more. You realize it's everything you've ever hoped for."
Teixeira made a major impact in his first season with the Yankees, arriving with all the requisite expectations of an eight-year contract. He delivered, batting .292 with 39 home runs and an American League-leading 122 RBIs while winning the AL Gold Glove Award.
Some of the faces have changed from the championship group that rolled down the Canyon of Heroes, including the departures of two major lineup contributors -- Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who have landed with the Tigers and Angels, respectively.
Teixeira checked that off as "part of the game" and predicted, "I don't think we're going to skip a beat," calling the Yankees the favorites to win another World Series.
"We have to feel that way every single season," Teixeira said. "We feel like we're just as capable of defending our championship as we were winning it last year. We have a great team, the core group of guys are back, and hopefully we all get a little bit better."
The $180 million deal sitting in Teixeira's back pocket finally gave him the security to know he'll be spending a considerable chunk of his future in Tampa with the Yankees, having spent previous springs in camp with the Rangers and the Braves before locking in with New York. It makes this experience even more pleasant for him.
"I don't know how many times I told my wife how nice it is I don't have to worry about the future," Teixeira said. "The last couple of years, it's always been, 'Where's my family going to be? Where are we going to live?'
"This year, it was really, 'What restaurant are we going to go to? Where are we going to take the kids? What shows are we going to watch?' I think that was a nice change for my family."
Now a second-year Bomber along with roster companions CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Nick Swisher, Teixeira can offer some perspective to newcomers like Curtis Granderson on how the New York glare can change the experience. His advice? Just be yourself.
"Everyone kind of tries to tell you ... 'You have to change something, but be yourself,'" Teixeira said. "Whoever it is, they're in this room for a reason. You have talent, they've performed on the highest levels. When you come to the Yankees, there's more eyes watching, more people that care -- which is great. You go out and play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
Teixeira jumped in the batting cage on his first day back at the spring office before heading off for the afternoon. The Yankees will regroup as a full squad for the first time on Wednesday, taking the field after a short speech from manager Joe Girardi -- one that Teixeira can probably already guess the most important messages of.
"For us, I think it's 'Let's keep doing what we're doing,'" Teixeira said. "That was our motto last year during the playoffs -- 'Keep up the good work and let's keep working hard and playing good baseball.' That's what we're going to try to do this year."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.