Yankees Notebook: Teixeira to third, Soriano to closer

Mark Teixeira.

Mark Teixeira stood at his locker and said all the right things about hitting third after spending two days as the team’s No. 7 hitter.

A few minutes into his session with reporters before Wednesday night’s game with the Royals, he freely confessed something that numbers will back up.

“I think, for me, I’ve been putting too many balls in play,” Teixeira said. “That sounds crazy. But I don’t think I’ve been as aggressive at the plate. So when I’m swinging, instead of fouling a pitch off or missing it — there’s nothing wrong with missing the first pitch of an at-bat — but if you ground it out or pop it up, you go, ‘Man I just wasted that at-bat.’”

Teixeira has a .229 batting average through 153 at-bats and 167 plate appearances. So far, he has seen 616 pitches. That translates to 3.68 pitches per at-bat, which is the lowest of his career.

Teixeira has walked just 11 times and his .281 on-base percentage is the lowest among Yankee regulars. His average has also not been helped by a career-high 46.7 percent groundball rate, up from 34.9 in 2011.

It also means that when Teixeira is putting balls into play he has a .231 average, which among regular first baseman is the fifth-worst in the majors. It ranks ahead of Todd Helton, Albert Pujols, Ike Davis and Eric Hosmer.

The statistic measures batted balls with home runs excluded and for Teixeira, that number has declined from .302 in 2009. In 2010, it was the second-worst in the game among first baseman and last season his .239 BABIP was the worst at his position. That occurred even as Teixeira slugged 39 home runs and drove in 111 runs.

“I’ve been putting too many balls in play,” Teixeira said. “Instead of taking that swing to hit a home run and to drive the ball, I’ve never been someone that just wants to put the ball in play. And in years past on a 1-0 pitch or a 2-0 pitch and it’s maybe a little bit up or a little bit down, you swing and foul it off or you swing and miss. Now I’m putting that ball in play, which sucks.”

Since returning, Teixeira’s at-bats have been mixed in terms of pitches seen. He saw three pitches in his first at-bat Tuesday and grounded into a double play, but faced five pitches in his next at-bat and lined a double that began the Yankees’ modest comeback.

“If you look at his at-bats, I think they’ve gotten better,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Unfortunately, he’s been plagued by this cough. I still see him cough from time to time. Obviously not as much as I did before.”

Eppley into the fire

On Tuesday, with Cory Wade and Boone Logan already used and the injuries to David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, the eighth inning was split by Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada.

Eppley has a sidearm motion, which is designed to get ground balls when the time calls for one.  When he entered a one-run game with nobody out and a runner on first, that is exactly what he delivered

“You look at his track record; he is a ground ball guy and that’s kind of how I have to use him,” Girardi said. “If you’re looking for a double play or a runner on third with the infield in, those are the situations that I’ve kind of picked for him the last couple of days.”

So far, Eppley has faced 33 hitters and gotten 15 ground balls. In those 8 1/3 innings, he has allowed seven hits, though Tuesday was the first time he pitched in the eighth with a one-run lead.

“He’s obviously throwing from his arm angle, so he’s going to have more success against right-handers than left-handers, so I’m going to have to pick that [time].”

Sticking with Soriano

Rafael Soriano, who has publicly stated he is more comfortable closing games than setting up, may get to remain in that role when Robertson returns from the DL.

For the first time since losing Robertson, Girardi hinted at the possibility of keeping Soriano in that role.

“I’m comfortable bringing in Sori where we are bringing him because of his experience of what he has done,” Girardi said.

Of course, Girardi is not going to look too far ahead.

“Here is my prayer,” Girardi said. “Let’s get Robbie back where he is feeling comfortable. Let’s get him in a game before we start making any official decisions.”

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…


Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…


North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…


MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…


Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.


Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."


Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…


3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.


NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.


Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.


Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.


Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…


4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…


Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…