Yankees introduce $180 million free-agent prize Mark Teixeira
Posted Jan 07 2009 2:49pm
Whenever he could during his career, Mark Teixeira has chosen the jersey No. 23 in honor of his favorite player growing up - Don Mattingly. But Teixeira had to settle for No. 25 Tuesday when he was introduced as the Yankees' newest first baseman because his idol's number is retired.
The Yankees feted Teixeira in a gala press conference at the old Yankee Stadium, prompting Joe Girardi to quip, "The old Yankee Stadium doesn't want to die. We have another special day here."
In front of a room packed with reporters and Yankee officials, Teixeira recounted how he's eager for the challenge of being a Yankee and being under the scrutiny that comes with the eight-year, $180 million contract he signed.
"No one's going to expect more out of me than me," the 28-year-old Teixeira said. "I believe I have yet to tap my potential. I'm trying to get better. I haven't accomplished anything yet - I don't have a World Series ring on my finger."
Teixeira was impressed by a meeting he and his agent, Scott Boras, had with Yankee GM Brian Cashman early in the free agency period at a Washington, D.C. hotel. As part of the visit, which Cashman described as "a big baseball conversation," the GM gave Teixeira a video of Yankee Stadium. "He put his college recruiting pitch in there," Teixeira said with a smile.
Multiple members of Teixeira's family were in attendance, including his wife, Leigh, his college sweetheart at Georgia Tech. His parents, John and Margy Teixeira, were there, too, as were Teixeira's sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, Nick Durastanti, who live in Hoboken.
Adding Teixeira is a huge boost to the Yankee lineup as well as their defense - he's one of the better first basemen in the American League. The Red Sox, Angels, Nationals and Orioles all pursued Teixeira, but he ultimately decided he wanted to join the Yankees when he pressed his wife for her opinion and she said, "I think you should be a Yankee."
"Once we got the contract, it was a no-brainer," Teixeira said.
Teixeira, a switch-hitter with terrific patience at the plate, batted .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBI last season for the Braves and Angels. He has a career average of .290 with 203 homers and 676 RBI in 904 games in six seasons.
He was an Oriole fan growing up in Severna Park, Maryland, but adored Mattingly.
"I think that says a lot about the Yankee organization," Teixeira said. "I loved Cal (Ripken), I loved Eddie (Murray), but there's something about Don Mattingly. I used to wear a Yankee hat to games - that wasn't a safe thing to do in Baltimore."