In his three-plus seasons as a Yankee, Mark Teixeira has a .264 batting average, 116 home runs and 361 runs.
Last night, that earned him a demotion to the No. 7 spot in the lineup. The lingering effects of a bronchial infection have diminished Teixeira’s production to .226 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 2012 and manager Joe Girardi is clearly tired of hearing questions about the supposed slugger.
“Maybe people will stop asking him so many questions all the time,” Girardi said before yesterday’s game. “He’s been the focus of our lineup and if the other guys were hitting he probably wouldn’t be the focus. There’s a lot of other guys struggling in those situations, some worse than he is and so I just thought, he hasn’t played in three days. I’m going to move him down and see what happens.
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“I’m not saying you shouldn’t be the focal point. These are guys expected to be huge in our order, big pieces in our order. It’s been somewhat of a struggle for our guys and I just thought I’d move him down for a few days and see what happens.”
Teixeira is currently on a pace to finish with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs, which would be similar to his rookie season when he batted .256 with 26 home runs and 84 RBIs.
His rookie season, in 2003 for Texas, was also the last time he batted as far down as seventh in the lineup.
“I’m never going to make excuses but it hasn’t been fun,” Teixeira said. “It hasn’t been a fun ride. You know me well enough to know that I’m usually a lot more vocal [and] a lot happier. It has just been really exhausting.”
Even with a lower batting average, as long as the home run number is around 30 and the RBIs total at approximately 110, a lower batting average is acceptable to Girardi.
“The biggest thing you want out of a hitter is production,” Girardi said. “Average is important, but average doesn’t always mean production. He could become a slap hitter, hit .310, drive in 50 runs and hit 10 home runs and we’d all be saying we probably like the other Mark Teixeira better — the one that was hitting 30-plus home runs and driving in 110 runs. So for me, the production is the important thing, not the average.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.